Vacuoles and fungal biology


Veses V, Richards A, Gow NA

Date: 2 February 2009


Fungal vacuoles have long been recognised as versatile organelles, involved in many aspects of protein turnover, cellular homeostasis, membrane trafficking, signalling and nutrition. Recent research has also revealed an expanding repertoire of physiological functions for fungal vacuoles that are vital for fungal growth, differentiation, symbiosis and pathogenesis. Vacuole-mediated long-distance nutrient transporting systems have been shown to facilitate mycelial foraging and long-distance communication in saprophytes and mycorrhizal fungi. Some hyphae of plant and human fungal pathogens can grow under severely nutrient-limited conditions by expanding the vacuolar space rather than synthesising new cytoplasm and organelles. Autophagy has been recognised as a crucial process in plant pathogens for the initiation of appressorium formation. These studies demonstrate the importance of fungal vacuoles as organelles that are essential for many of the attributes that define the activities and roles of fungi in their natural environments.

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