Exploiting Trichoderma: From food security to biotechnology

Dec 21, 2011

From improving food security to their use as biotechnology power horses, Trichoderma fungi are increasingly being exploited by industry. Current advances in the field are brought together and highlighted in a special issue of Microbiology published online on 27 December.

Trichoderma are free-living fungi widely used in . Some species of Trichoderma are specifically used as to control including Fusarium species. Their success is partly due to mycoparasitism – a lifestyle where one fungus is parasitic on another fungus. Regular use of Trichoderma species on plants can reduce the need to use chemical pesticides. This provides an economic advantage to farmers and helps improve food security.

Trichoderma are naturally found in the soil where they form symbiotic associations with plants. The microbe–plant relationship can alter plant gene expression to confer a range of benefits to the plant, including increased resistance to pathogens and abiotic stresses, such as drought and heat. The efficiency of photosynthesis and nitrogen fertilizer uptake can also be improved through altered gene expression. Typically, these genetic changes lead to a net increase in plant growth and productivity.

One member of the genus, Trichoderma reesei, is used as a biotechnological cell factory for the large-scale production of cellulase enzymes (needed for biofuel production) and recombinant proteins. T. reesei is also a widely-used model for studying protein secretion.

Benjamin A. Horwitz (Technion, Israel) and Alfredo Herrera-Estrella (National Laboratory of Genomics for Biodiversity, Mexico), who compiled the issue, hope the collection of papers will be a useful tool for researchers. "This special issue brings together recent work from the Trichoderma research community and a collection of reviews that will hopefully stimulate new work on this fascinating group of fungi," they said. "We hope that this will allow the identification of new opportunities for the exploitation of this microbe's impressive genetic potential."

Explore further: Tarantula toxin is used to report on electrical activity in live cells

Provided by Society for General Microbiology

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Mold fungi can cure plants

Nov 01, 2011

We know them from our garden, from damp cellars or from the fridge - mold fungi can be found almost everywhere. Their success is due to their remarkable versatility:  depending on external conditions, ...

Scientists grow plants with friendly fungi

Aug 08, 2011

Dr. Chris Thornton and colleagues at the University of Exeter are examining whether adding a safe and harmless fungus to compost boosts the growth and proliferation of crops' roots, helping them grow with ...

With fungi on their side, rice plants grow to be big

Jun 10, 2010

By tinkering with a type of fungus that lives in association with plant roots, researchers have found a way to increase the growth of rice by an impressive margin. The so-called mycorrhizal fungi are found ...

Climate adaptation of rice

Jul 13, 2011

Rice – which provides nearly half the daily calories for the world's population – could become adapted to climate change and some catastrophic events by colonizing its seeds or plants with the spores of tiny naturally ...

Recommended for you

Scientists see how plants optimize their repair

6 hours ago

Researchers led by a Washington State University biologist have found the optimal mechanism by which plants heal the botanical equivalent of a bad sunburn. Their work, published in the Proceedings of the Na ...

Structure of an iron-transport protein revealed

12 hours ago

For the first time, the three dimensional structure of the protein that is essential for iron import into cells, has been elucidated. Biochemists of the University of Zurich have paved the way towards a better ...

Over-organizing repair cells set the stage for fibrosis

13 hours ago

The excessive activity of repair cells in the early stages of tissue recovery sets the stage for fibrosis by priming the activation of an important growth factor, according to a study in The Journal of Ce ...

User comments : 0