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Kis-Papo, T; Weig, A; Riley, R; Peršoh, D; Salamov, A; Sun, H; Lipzen, A; Wasser, SP; Rambold, G; Grigoriev, I; Nevo, E: Genomic adaptations of the halophilic Dead Sea filamentous fungus Eurotium rubrum, Nature Communications, 5, Article number: 3745 (2014), online: 2014-05-09, doi:10.1038/ncomms4745

The Dead Sea is one of the most hypersaline habitats on Earth. The fungus Eurotium rubrum (Eurotiomycetes) is among the few species able to survive there. Here we highlight its adaptive strategies, based on genome analysis and transcriptome profiling. The 26.2 Mb genome of E. rubrum shows, for example, gains in gene families related to stress response and losses with regard to transport processes. Transcriptome analyses under different salt growth conditions revealed, among other things differentially expressed genes encoding ion and metabolite transporters. Our findings suggest that long-term adaptation to salinity requires cellular and metabolic responses that differ from short-term osmotic stress signalling. The transcriptional response indicates that halophilic E. rubrum actively counteracts the salinity stress. Many of its genes encode for proteins with a significantly higher proportion of acidic amino acid residues. This trait is characteristic of the halophilic prokaryotes as well, supporting the theory of convergent evolution under extreme hypersaline stress.

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