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Curr Biol. 1999 Jan 28;9(2):85-8.

How a fungus escapes the water to grow into the air.

Author information

1
Groningen Biomolecular Sciences, Biotechnology Institute, Laboratory of Molecular Plant Biology, Department of Microbiology, University of Groningen, Kerklaan 30 9751, NN Haren, The Netherlands. wostenha@biol rug.nl.

Abstract

Fungi are well known to the casual observer for producing water-repelling aerial moulds and elaborate fruiting bodies such as mushrooms and polypores. Filamentous fungi colonize moist substrates (such as wood) and have to breach the water-air interface to grow into the air. Animals and plants breach this interface by mechanical force. Here, we show that a filamentous fungus such as Schizophyllum commune first has to reduce the water surface tension before its hyphae can escape the aqueous phase to form aerial structures such as aerial hyphae or fruiting bodies. The large drop in surface tension (from 72 to 24 mJ m-2) results from self-assembly of a secreted hydrophobin (SC3) into a stable amphipathic protein film at the water-air interface. Other, but not all, surface-active molecules (that is, other class I hydrophobins and streptofactin from Streptomyces tendae) can substitute for SC3 in the medium. This demonstrates that hydrophobins not only have a function at the hyphal surface but also at the medium-air interface, which explains why fungi secrete large amounts of hydrophobin into their aqueous surroundings.

PMID:
10021365
DOI:
10.1016/s0960-9822(99)80019-0
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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