Virtually all organisms exposed to light are capable of sensing this environmental signal. In recent years the photoreceptors that mediate the ability of fungi to "see" have been identified in diverse species, and increasingly characterized. The small sizes of fungal genomes and ease in genetic and molecular biology manipulations make this kingdom ideal amongst the eukaryotes for understanding photosensing. The most widespread and conserved photosensory protein in the fungi is White collar 1 (WC-1), a flavin-binding photoreceptor that functions with WC-2 as a transcription factor complex. Other photosensory proteins in fungi include opsins, phytochromes and cryptochromes whose roles in fungal photobiology are not fully resolved and their distribution in the fungi requires further taxon sampling. Additional unknown photoreceptors await discovery. This review discusses the effects of light on fungi and the evolutionary processes that may have shaped the ability of species to sense and respond to this signal.
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