Fungi are rich sources of secondary metabolites (SMs), small bioactive molecules of medicinal and agricultural importance, that as well contribute to fundamental cellular processes like defense, communication with other (micro-) organisms, or virulence in pathogenic interactions. This is also true for Trichoderma mycoparasites, fungi that are able to attack and parasitize other fungi. However, most genes that are involved in SM production are not expressed when the fungus is cultivated in the lab under standard cultivation conditions but only when exogenous chemical cues are present.

This project aims at elucidating the role of chemical cross-talk in triggering metabolite production and in mediating the interaction between two fungi, the mycoparasite Trichoderma atroviride and the plant pathogen Botrytis cinerea (grey mold). We will develop and employ a novel integrative approach for detection and spatial localization of small molecules produced and exchanged between two fungi. They will be studied in both interacting fungi at various cellular levels by applying a combination of cutting-edge technologies that is unparalleled in the field. The tailor-made integration of mass spectrometric imaging, high resolution metabolomics, live cell imaging, and gene expression analysis will provide novel insight into the complex fungus-fungus interaction and the identity and role of small molecules therein.


Working group: WG Zeilinger-Migsich

Project Partners:

Assoc. Prof. Martina Marchetti-Deschmann, Inst. für Chemische Technologien und Analytik, TU-Wien

A.o. Univ. Prof. Rainer Schuhmacher, Interuniversitäres Department für Agrobiotechnologie, IFA-Tulln, Univ. für Bodenkultur, Wien