Research Projects

Keith Dunne

Current PhD Student

A Genomic Approcah to understanding & improving Mushroom Compost Utilisation

The overall objective from this research is to identify potential means of improving mushroom
yields, particularly in the third flush through improved compost utilisation and strain selection. The
ability of Agaricus bisporus (common button mushroom) to colonise compost is due to the specific
adaptation in terms of the enzymes it produces to utilise the substrate. Many genes and enzymes
have been identified to have critical roles in this utilisation in order to facilitate the development of
the mushroom fruit body. However, it is not known which of these are critical in controlling yields
and these enzymes are likely to change dynamically in phase with the flush. While ultimately
dependent on such enzymes, the yield is also affected by other factors.
The aims of the research
1. Examination of the genes and enzymes associated with nutrition will be carried out using
microarray analysis of the A. bisporus genome to identify gene transcripts which are
differentially expressed at the specific time points in the cropping cycle.
2. Genes identified as such may potentially be involved in yield control or flushing patterns. A
promoter analysis of these genes, which are dynamically expressed, will then be carried out
to identify potential regulatory mechanisms. Expression analysis of these genes will also be
carried out in A. bisporus strains with different yielding properties.
3. Promoter analysis will be conducted on the genes with the most promising expression
profiles being characterised by heterologous/homologous expression systems to determine
substrate specificity, conditions which induce expression and gene down-regulation to
determine any phenotypic effect.
4. To evaluate factors limiting yields, cropping experiments will be carried out. Yield
parameters and gene expression of genes previously identified will also be measured.