Team:Cornell/project/background/fungal genetic engineering


Cornell University Genetically Engineered Machines

Fungal Genetic Engineering

Recent years have shown increasing interest in the genetic engineering of filamentous fungi. With this interest has come many developments in transformation methods. Currently, there are two main methods commonly used to transform fungal species with recombinant DNA: Agrobacterium mediated transformation and protoplasting [1].

Agrobacterium tumefaciens mediated transformation (AMT) is a method by which Agrobacterium are utilized to transfect fungal cells [3]. Genetic constructs are first transformed into the T-DNA of A. tumefaciens. A. tumefaciens, when co-cultured with fungi, will then transfect the fungal cells, inserting the gene of interest into the fungal genetic material. This DNA can then be incorporated into the genome through random insertions or homologous recombination.

Cochliobolus heterostrophus
The more common method, however, involves protoplasting. Protoplasts are formed using commercially available enzymes to remove the wall from fungal cells. Once these fragile cells are formed, they can be transformed with polyethylene glycol (PEG). By exposing the fragile protoplasts to PEG and recombinant DNA the cells uptake the DNA. Integration of the DNA into the fungal genome can then occur via homologous recombination, random insertion, or restriction enzyme mediated integration (REMI) [2]. Typically, homologous recombination is the most efficient, though this varies by species.

With both Agrobacterium mediated transformation and protoplasting, selection markers are used to select successful transformants. Two commonly used selection markers are the antibiotics hygromycin and geneticin, which are both effective against the strains used in our project: Ganoderma lucidum and Cochliobolus heterostrophus.


1. Weld, R. J., Plummer, K. M., Carpenter, M. A., & Ridgeway, H. J. (n.d.). Appraoches to functional genomics in filamentous fungi. N.p.: Nature.

2. Turgeon, G. B., Condon, B., Liu, J., & Zhang, N. (2010). Protoplast Transformation of Filamentous Fungi (Vol. 638). N.p.: Molecular and Cell Biology for Fungi.

3. Feldmann, K. A., & Marks, D. M. (1986). Agrobacterium-mediated transformation of germinating seeds of Arabidopsi thaliana: A non-tissue culture approach. N.p.: Zoecon Research Institute.

4. Sun, L., Cai, H., Xu, W., Hu, Y., Gao, Y., & Lin, Z. (2001). Efficient Transformation of The Medicinal Mushroom Ganoderma Lucidum (19th ed.). N.p.: Plant Molecular Biology Reporter.