Transport in Agaricus bisporus
Nutrients that have been taken up by the mycelium are transported to zones of growth such as the colony margin and the developing mushrooms. The network architecture impacts the transport capacity of the mycelium. It is not clear how this network architecture is regulated and how nutrient uptake and transport are orchestrated. Our aims are to understand (1) how the network architecture is regulated and (2) how the interplay between the network architecture and the physiology thereof regulates transport. As part of this we use a wide range of imaging techniques and develop fluorescently tagged nutrients, to monitor transport, and use radioactive and stable isotope tracers to quantify transport.
Cellular heterogeneity and transport in Aspergillus niger
The colony margin of Aspergillus niger produces two types of hyphae, a subpopulation exhibiting low and a subpopulation with high transcriptional and translational activity. This cellular heterogeneity results from differential gene expression, septal plugging and intercompartmental transport. We study which regulatory processes underly this cellular heterogeneity by using a combination of modelling and molecular biology and what impact this has on the single cell level as well as on the behaviour of the colony as a whole.
Agaricus bisporus and the interaction with its microbiome
In the Netherlands, the white button mushroom is produced on a horse- and chicken manure, wheat straw and gypsum-based compost. After colonisation of the compost by the fungus, the compost is topped with a peat casing soil to allow mushroom formation. Bacteria and ascomycete fungi in the compost aid in substrate degradation and feed the fungus directly and/or associate with the fungal network, called the mycosphere. Moreover, bacteria in the casing soil stimulate mushroom formation, by breaking down a volatile self-inhibitor of A. bisporus. The microbiome is key to efficient colonisation and fructification of the fungus, since sterilising the compost severely inhibits fungal growth and mushroom formation. It is our aim to unravel how the microbiome impacts colonisation and development of the fungus.
A better fundamental understanding of how fungal networks function and interact with their environment will help design more efficient, economical, and sustainable approaches in a wide range of industries ranging from food production (i.e. mushrooms) and fungal materials production, to soil remediation and plastic waste management. Together with our industrial partners we currently focus on improving mushroom production.