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DOE JGI sequences, releases genome of symbiotic tree fungus

WALNUT CREEK, CA--The DNA sequence of Laccaria bicolor, a fungus that forms a beneficial symbiosis with trees and inhabits one of the most ecologically and commercially important microbial niches in North American and Eurasian forests, has been determined by the U.S. Department of Energy DOE Joint Genome Institute (DOE JGI). The complete Laccaria genome sequence was announced July 23 at the Fifth International Conference on Mycorrhiza in Granada, Spain by an international consortium comprised of DOE JGI, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), France's National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA), the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH), and Ghent University in Belgium, and additional groups in Germany, Sweden, and France.

"The Laccaria genome sequence will provide the global research community with a critical resource to develop faster-growing trees for producing more biomass that can be converted to fuels, and for trees capable of capturing more carbon from the atmosphere," said DOE JGI Director Eddy Rubin.

"The woody tissues of trees act as one of the world's most important terrestrial sinks for CO2, making trees an important stabilizer of carbon in the earth's environment," said Francis Martin, INRA's Laccaria project leader. "The steady rise of global atmospheric CO2 concentrations suggests that we are on the trajectory for serious environmental problems. This situation could be eased by modeling and actively managing the complex relationships between trees and fungi," said Martin.

Key factors behind the ability of trees to generate large amounts of biomass or store carbon reside in the way that they interact with soil microbes known as mycorrhizal fungi, which excel at procuring necessary, but scarce, nutrients such as phosphate and nitrogen. When Laccaria bicolor partners with plant roots, a mycorrhizal root is created, resulting in a mutualistic relationship that significantly benefits both organisms. The fungus withi
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Contact: David Gilbert
gilbert21@llnl.gov
925-296-5643
DOE/Joint Genome Institute
24-Jul-2006


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