Trichoderma atroviride is a worldwide abundant filamentous fungus with a mycoparasitic lifestyle that attacks, destructively invades and kills a broad range of plant pathogenic host fungi, subsequently nourishing itself on their remains. T. atroviride further is known to beneficially act on plants by priming the plants immune system, enhancing the resilience against abiotic stress factors and promoting plant growth in root and shoot. Together, these abilities render T. atroviride an important biological control agent of crop plants applied in agriculture against fungal pathogens. Evidence accumulated that secondary metabolites (SMs) significantly contribute to the strength and progress of the mycoparasitic attack as well as the beneficial interaction with plants and recent comparative genome analyses revealed an enrichment of genes associated with SM biosynthesis in T. atroviride.
This project will focus on the genetic basis and regulation of SM production in T. atroviride with a special emphasis on (I) the identification of the biosynthesis genes involved in the production of 6-pentyl-α-pyrone, one of the main SMs of T. atroviride with anti-fungal and plant growth-promoting activities and (II) on activating the expression of cryptic secondary metabolism-associated genes by genetic inactivation of a histone deacetylase and concurrent enhanced euchromatin formation. The resulting effects will be examined by a multidisciplinary approach combining state-of-the-art genetic manipulation, transcriptomics, and metabolomics methods. The expected outcomes will significantly improve our understanding of SM biosynthesis in T. atroviride and may result in the identification of substances with interesting bioactivities for putative use as drugs or bio-fungicides.
Project Leader: Verena Speckbacher
Working group: WG Zeilinger-Migsich