Isolation and characterization of gene from a Dead Sea fungus


Project Name: Isolation and characterization of EhHOG gene from a Dead Sea filamentous fungus Eurotium herbariorum


Principal researcher name: Prof. Eviatar Nevo


Invention area: Environment & Cleantech


Background: The dead sea  surface standing at –416 m mean sea level 2).The Dead Sea is one of the most saline lakes on earth (total salinity about 340 g/l). The Dead Sea has the low water activity (< 0.669)makes it a hostile environment to most forms life.


The pioneering studies of Benjamin Elazari- Volcani in the 1930s on the biology of the Dead Sea revealed a variety of microorganisms, including red halophilic archaea, unicellular green algae (Dunaliella parva Lerche), different types of bacteria, and possibly even protozoa (Volcani, 1944; Wilkansky, 1936).


The total number of species discovered from the Dead Sea reaches 77. Approximately 43% of the isolates belonged to the genera Aspergillus and Eurotium.


Eurotium herbariorum is most common species isolated from Dead Sea water from surface to 300 m depth, in all investigated seasons.


How do these fungi adapt to salt stress?


In order to accumulate and synthesize compatible solutes (osmolytes) to increase potential in cytosolic to prevent water outflow,Fungi use polyols as osmolytes and major polyol used is glycerol. 


Conclusion from Studies conducted within the University labs :


EhHOG does exist and is HOG1 homologous gene in Dead Sea fungus E. herbariorum.


There is an equivalent HOG pathway in E. herbariorum cells.


EhHOG has function in osmoregulation, enhances salt tolerance.


EhHOG, has function in resistance to heat stress, oxdative stress and freeze and thawing stress. Especially high resistance freeze and thawing stress.


Aim of project:


Insertion of the fungus genes into wheat to allow wheat growth in saltier areas.