Diversity of genomic adaptations to the post-fire environment in Pezizales fungi points to crosstalk between charcoal tolerance and sexual development

New Phytol. 2022 Nov;236(3):1154-1167. doi: 10.1111/nph.18407. Epub 2022 Sep 1.


Wildfires drastically impact the soil environment, altering the soil organic matter, forming pyrolyzed compounds, and markedly reducing the diversity of microorganisms. Pyrophilous fungi, especially the species from the orders Pezizales and Agaricales, are fire-responsive fungal colonizers of post-fire soil that have historically been found fruiting on burned soil and thus may encode mechanisms of processing these compounds in their genomes. Pyrophilous fungi are diverse. In this work, we explored this diversity and sequenced six new genomes of pyrophilous Pezizales fungi isolated after the 2013 Rim Fire near Yosemite Park in California, USA: Pyronema domesticum, Pyronema omphalodes, Tricharina praecox, Geopyxis carbonaria, Morchella snyderi, and Peziza echinospora. A comparative genomics analysis revealed the enrichment of gene families involved in responses to stress and the degradation of pyrolyzed organic matter. In addition, we found that both protein sequence lengths and G + C content in the third base of codons (GC3) in pyrophilous fungi fall between those in mesophilic/nonpyrophilous and thermophilic fungi. A comparative transcriptome analysis of P. domesticum under two conditions - growing on charcoal, and during sexual development - identified modules of genes that are co-expressed in the charcoal and light-induced sexual development conditions. In addition, environmental sensors such as transcription factors STE12, LreA, LreB, VosA, and EsdC were upregulated in the charcoal condition. Taken together, these results highlight genomic adaptations of pyrophilous fungi and indicate a potential connection between charcoal tolerance and fruiting body formation in P. domesticum.

Keywords: fungal genomics; pyronema; pyrophilous fungi; sexual development; wildfires.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Charcoal*
  • Fungi
  • Genomics*
  • Sexual Development
  • Soil
  • Transcription Factors


  • Soil
  • Transcription Factors
  • Charcoal