Understanding the Genetic Blueprint and Medicinal Properties of a Unique Fungus

Jenn Hoskins
20th June, 2024

Understanding the Genetic Blueprint and Medicinal Properties of a Unique Fungus

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • Researchers at Shaanxi University of Technology sequenced the genome of Cyathus olla, a medicinal fungus
  • The genome consists of fourteen chromosomes and reveals significant genetic diversity and biosynthetic pathways
  • They identified a gene cluster responsible for producing cyathane diterpenes, compounds with medicinal properties
Cyathus olla, a fungus known for its bird's nest-like fruiting bodies, has been used in folk medicine for various therapeutic purposes. Despite its medicinal potential, the genetic makeup of this species has remained largely unexplored. Researchers at Shaanxi University of Technology have now generated a high-quality genome assembly of C. olla, revealing significant insights into its genetic diversity and biosynthetic pathways for medicinal compounds[1]. The genome of C. olla consists of fourteen chromosomes and provides a comprehensive look at the variations in genomes and specific functional genes within the genus Cyathus. By comparing the genomes of different Cyathus species and 36 other Basidiomycota, the study sheds light on the evolutionary divergence, genome expansion, and contraction events within these fungi. Notably, the analysis of long terminal repeat retrotransposons (LTR-RT) and the ratio of non-synonymous to synonymous mutations (Ka/Ks) indicated whole-genome duplication events in C. olla's genome. One of the key findings from this study is the identification of the biosynthetic gene cluster (BGC) responsible for producing cyathane diterpenes, compounds known for their medicinal properties. Additionally, the researchers predicted 32 other BGCs containing 41 core genes involved in the synthesis of various bioactive metabolites. This discovery is particularly significant as it enhances our understanding of the genetic basis for the production of medicinal compounds in Cyathus species. The research on C. olla builds on previous studies of other medicinal fungi, such as Ganoderma lucidum, Laetiporus sulphureus, Antrodia cinnamomea, and Inonotus obliquus. For instance, the genome of G. lucidum revealed a rich set of genes involved in secondary metabolism, including cytochrome P450s (CYPs) and wood degradation enzymes[2]. Similarly, the genome of L. sulphureus identified genes associated with polysaccharide synthesis and secondary metabolite biosynthesis, including terpenoids and polyketides[3]. In A. cinnamomea, genes involved in the biosynthesis of sesquiterpenoids, triterpenoids, and other medicinal compounds were discovered, providing insights into tissue-specific compound production[4]. The genome of I. obliquus also highlighted genes responsible for the synthesis of polysaccharides, polyketides, and terpenoids, which are crucial for its pharmacological activities[5]. The findings from the C. olla genome study complement and expand upon these earlier studies by providing a detailed look at the genetic diversity and biosynthetic pathways within the genus Cyathus. The identification of BGCs for cyathane diterpenes and other bioactive metabolites in C. olla offers a valuable resource for future research into the genetic basis of chemodiversity in medicinal fungi. By leveraging advanced genomic techniques, the researchers at Shaanxi University of Technology have laid the groundwork for a deeper understanding of the genetic and biochemical mechanisms underlying the medicinal properties of C. olla. This study not only enhances our knowledge of Cyathus species but also provides a fundamental basis for the development of new therapeutic compounds derived from these fungi.



Main Study

1) Genome-wide characterization and metabolite profiling of Cyathus olla: insights into the biosynthesis of medicinal compounds

Published 19th June, 2024


Related Studies

2) Genome sequence of the model medicinal mushroom Ganoderma lucidum.


3) Chromosome-Level Genome Sequences, Comparative Genomic Analyses, and Secondary-Metabolite Biosynthesis Evaluation of the Medicinal Edible Mushroom Laetiporus sulphureus.


4) Genomic and transcriptomic analyses of the medicinal fungus Antrodia cinnamomea for its metabolite biosynthesis and sexual development.


5) Genome sequencing of Inonotus obliquus reveals insights into candidate genes involved in secondary metabolite biosynthesis.


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