‘Jumping Genes’ Help Truffles Adapt to Environment.

A newly published study in the journal Genome Biology by scientists from UCLA and colleagues in Italy, France and Taiwan reports on the truffle’s unique genetic makeup.

“The fungi have a complex genome, with a preponderance of repetitive and mobile elements,” said Simone Ottonello of the laboratory of functional genomics and protein engineering at the Univ. of Parma in Italy. “The genome resembles the composition of the human genome, which also uses reversible methylation — and other mechanisms — to deal with repeated and mobile elements.”

‘Jumping Genes’ Help Truffles Adapt to Environment.

A newly published study in the journal Genome Biology by scientists from UCLA and colleagues in Italy, France and Taiwan reports on the truffle’s unique genetic makeup.

“The fungi have a complex genome, with a preponderance of repetitive and mobile elements,” said Simone Ottonello of the laboratory of functional genomics and protein engineering at the Univ. of Parma in Italy. “The genome resembles the composition of the human genome, which also uses reversible methylation — and other mechanisms — to deal with repeated and mobile elements.”

More than 58 percent of Tuber melanosporum’s genetic material is made up of so-called “jumping genes,” transposable genetic elements, or transposons, that can replicate and paste themselves throughout the genome. The research illustrates how the truffle regulates those elements.

“We found that DNA methylation is targeted to those transposable elements, but it also can affect the expression of adjacent genes and the number of transposons that are copied,” said Matteo Pellegrini, a professor of molecular, cell and developmental biology in the UCLA College, and the paper’s senior author.

The black truffle uses reversible epigenetic processes to regulate its genes and adapt to changes in its surroundings. Although this process was known to occur in other plants and animals, this was the first research to establish that it occurs in fungi.

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