Surfacing to Sporulate

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Science  01 Nov 2002:
Vol. 298, Issue 5595, pp. 925
DOI: 10.1126/science.298.5595.925a

Most of us are familiar with the molds that decorate neglected foodstuffs with bluish-gray tufts. Before we can see these fruiting bodies, or conidia, the fungi grow microscopically within the food as hyphae. When the hyphae reach the surface, they change developmental programs and differentiate into conidia. High concentrations of calcium have been shown to trigger a sequence of synchronous morphogenetic changes leading to the appearance of conidia. Now, Roncal et al. have observed that Penicillium cyclopium secretes a diterpene molecule they call conidiogenone, which accumulates on the surface of the mold. When the terpenoid reaches a critical concentration, it initiates conidium formation, with calcium merely increasing the sensitivity to conidiogenone. — CA

Eukaryotic Cell1, 823 (2002).

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