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Whole Genome Analysis Makes Ganoderma lucidum the First Model Medicinal Mushroom

Nature Communications of the Nature Publishing Group published, with a featured image, the paper on genome sequence of Ganoderma lucidum co-authored by a research group led by Prof. Chen Shilin from the Institute of Medicinal Plant Development, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, and their American and French partners. The joint research makes G.lucidum the first model medicinal mushroom by using whole genome analysis. The US TODAY, an American daily newspaper, reported the finding in an article titled Chinese "mushroom of immortality" genome mapped. The research is supported by the key project of the National Natural Science Foundation of China (project number: 81130069).

By using next-generation sequencing and optical mapping technologies, the group independently completed the chromosome level analysis of the genome sequence of G.lucidum. The research reported its 43.3Mb genome with 13 chromosomes. encoding 16,113 predicted genes, including a variety of genes of cytochrome P450s, transport protein and regulatory factors related to the synthesis, transportation and regulation of secondary metabolism production, and showed that G.lucidum is an ideal model species for the study of macrofungal secondary metabolism. This study was led by the Institute of Medicinal Plant Development, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, in collaboration with the Health Science Center of University of Tennessee, USA, University of Wisconsin at Madison, USA, Aix-Marseille University, France, China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences, U.S. National Evolutionary Research Center and some other institutions. The whole research team completed the fine genome map of G.lucidum, thoroughly investigated the synthetic pathway and regulation mechanism of the pharmacologically active compounds of G.lucidum and put forward G.lucidum as a model medicinal species for the  research on biosynthesis of bioactive compounds of the Chinese medicinal herbs.

Model organism is the species that is studied by biologists to understand particular biological phenomena with the expectation to unveil a universal law of life. G.lucidum has the features of a model organism: easily cultured and bred in laboratory, short generation, more offspring, clear genetic background, easy experimental manipulations, harmless to humans and the environment. As biological research has entered  into the genomic era, model biology research strategy is getting more extensive attention. The completion of genome sequence of some species usually makes the species develop into a model organism. Compared with inferior fungus like yeast, G.lucidum has more complex sexual generations and more obvious morphogenesis and differentiation. It also has smaller genome and shorter generation cycle than higher medicinal plants. In addition, the genetic transformation system of G.lucidum is matured and its chemical composition is clear, which makes it an ideal model organism for the research on biosynthesis and regulation of bioactive compounds of Chinese medical herbs. The elucidation of G.lucidum genome will enhance the model function of G.lucidum in biosynthesis and regulation of secondary metabolites, and correlation between secondary metabolism and development, and will promote the rapid development of biosynthesis research of bioactive compounds of Chinese medicinal herbs. Whole genome analysis makes G.lucidum the first model medicinal fungus for biosynthesis research of bioactive compounds of Chinese medicinal herbs. The establishment of G.lucidum model species will promote the combination of research on traditional Chinese medicine with  modern biology research, and push forward the research on traditional Chinese medicine to the frontier of life sciences.

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