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FRIMEDBIO-Fri prosj.st. med.,helse,biol

Rethinking fungal ecology in the era of omics and computational tools

Alternative title: Omtenkende soppøkologi i epoken med omikk og beregningsverktøy

Awarded: NOK 3.9 mill.

Overall assessments of forest dead wood are conducted in numerous countries, as a part of national forest inventories. Yet, we still lack detailed experiments, including field-based methods, to understand the process of wood decomposition and the mechanisms underlying adaptations and driving interactions among wood decomposers. Deadwood is a dynamic and complex ecological niche in which wood-inhabiting fungi are one of the most important component, and play an important role in degrading the wood in forest ecosystem. In this project, we propose a novel framework, integrating omics approaches to explore ecological and evolutionary mechanisms underlying wood decomposition. The project takes advantage of the “Big data” era, a large consortium dedicated to fungi genome sequencing and the availability of in vitro and in-situ transcriptomics datasets to test, through experimental set-up, centuries of mycological observations. By answering ecological questions using a "reverse ecology" framework, we aim for a better understanding of empirical observations in the natural environment and model systems.

Deadwood is a dynamic and complex ecological niche in which saprotrophic fungi play a central role in decomposing and recycling nutrients. Despite the relative importance of decomposition processes in the carbon cycle, surprisingly little is known about the evolutionary mechanisms leading to adaptations and interactions among deadwood fungi. In this project, POLOMICS, the applicant proposes a novel framework, integrating omics approaches to explore ecological and evolutionary mechanisms underlying wood decomposition. POLOMICS takes advantage of the “Big data” era, a large consortium dedicated to fungi genome sequencing and the availability of in vitro and in-situ transcriptomics datasets to test, through experimental set-up, centuries of mycological observations. Using an integrative approach, the researcher will tackle specific and relevant questions regarding the ecological genomics in the order Polyporales. We aim to (i) explore the genomic mechanisms that have driven evolution host specialisation in Polyporales, (ii) reveal the genomic signatures underlying species interaction for resource use and space during decomposition, and finally, (iii) investigate the extent to which polypore fungi, with known saprotrophic activity, can also exert latent pathogenic activity, a major concern for plant and forest health. This project will liaise six European research groups with a strong scientific background in omics, fungal ecology and fungal-tree interactions. The mobility hosts institutions are international leader groups in fungal evolutionary genomics and phylogenomics, ideally, match the project objectives, and will provide the applicant with in-depth training in comparative genomics and phylogenomics. The acquired skills will be very valuable for the career prospects of the applicant. By answering ecological questions using a "reverse ecology" framework, we aim for a better understanding of empirical observations in the natural environment and model systems.

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FRIMEDBIO-Fri prosj.st. med.,helse,biol