Light not only is indispensable as an energy source for life on earth but also serves as an essential environmental cue conveying the information of daily and seasonal time to organisms across different kingdoms. Although the molecular mechanisms underlying light responses are actively explored in various light-sensitive organisms, these studies are either hindered by the complexity of the systems or an incomplete familiarity with the light signaling components involved in the scheme. Therefore, study of a simple and well-characterized model system is desirable to expand our knowledge of basic properties underlying the regulation of biological light responses. This review will briefly introduce the basic light sensing machinery in Neurospora crassa, a filamentous fungus, and then focus on the most recent advances in employing Neurospora as a model to study light signaling cascades, photoadaptation, and circadian clock-modulated effects in eukaryotic cells. Also, we will summarize the functions of a number of putative photoreceptors in Neurospora, and discuss the implications of the study of Neurospora to the field of fungal photobiology and some challenges for future studies.
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