Neurospora A Gateway to Biology

In 1843, a luxuriant growth of a pink-orange fungus was observed on bread in the bakeries of Paris. This fungus was subsequently recognized as a common contaminant of bakeries and it came to be known as the pink bread mold. On September 1, 1923, an earthquake followed by fire struck Tokyo. The strange sight of a pink-orange growth that developed on almost all burnt trees and vegetation amazed the residents. Examination showed that the orange colored growth was due to the profuse production of conidia by a fungus. The fungus was named Oidium aurantiacum, later changed to Monilia sitophila. In 1927, Shear and Dodge discovered the sexual phase of the fungus in cultures grown in the laboratory and renamed the genus as Neurospora because it produced ascospores with neuron-like striations. Neurospora is the best studied of all fungi and is regarded as a model of all microbes (Davis and Perkins, 2002). This chapter describes some aspects of its history, life style, attributes and its contributions to biology.

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