With the monopolisation of two important niches in terrestrial ecosystems, namely mycorrhiza formation and decomposition of lignocellulose, fungi have obtained a pivotal role in the functioning of terrestrial ecosystems.
Inside the fruit and vegetable species, mushrooms are an original group due to their botanical position (macroscopic fungi, mostly Basidiomycetes), to their cultivation process (specialised monoculture) and to their consumption (always available in markets). The genus Agaricus is the main one with human uses, but it remains largely badly known. Lot of Agaricus species have to be discovered, in Europe as well as in other places. This genus includes edible and medicinal mushrooms (but also some toxic ones) and possibilities to exploit their properties have to be explored.
Consequently the laboratory of Biology and Genetics of Macroscopic Fungi inside the research unit MycSA is developing integrative researches on 4 subjects in order to produce knowledge, tools and biological material useful for development by technical institutes and industries:
* Characterisation and conservation of fungal biodiversity. We are characterising the species of the genus Agaricus and we are producing knowledge about their relationships thanks to taxonomy and phylogeny by combining uses of conventional mycological methods and molecular tools. For some species, we are studying population structures in relation to ecological data in order to define the status of the biodiversity, to understand its changes, and contribute to its preservation.
* Understanding of life cycles and reproduction biology, on the one hand for a better approach of wild populations’ dynamics and genetics, and on the other hand to propose alternative methods of strain selection adapted to mushrooms.
* Development of selection methods adapted to mushrooms. We are drawing genetic maps and identifying genetic markers for interesting genes. We are developing quantitative genetic approaches for mushrooms and we are performing breeding programs by exploiting genetic markers. The white button mushroom, Agaricus bisporus, is our model of studies.
* Identification of mechanisms of interactions between macroscopic fungi and the microbial communities in their environment. We are typing the bio-aggressors and studying the molecules and genes involved in interactions.