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Neurospora crassa: looking back and looking forward at a model microbe.

  • Author(s): Roche, Christine M;
  • Loros, Jennifer J;
  • McCluskey, Kevin;
  • Glass, N Louise
  • et al.

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Investigation of the red bread mold that contaminated French bakeries nearly two centuries ago has led to a wealth of discoveries that have impacted our understanding of genetic, biochemical, and molecular mechanisms in microbes, from Mendelian genetics and the gene-enzyme relationship to circadian rhythm and plant cell wall degradation. Early Neurospora research focused on elucidating mechanisms of genetic recombination and gene action and later progressed to addressing complex biological questions of eukaryotic microbes. Here we review the evolution of the filamentous fungus Neurospora as a model microbe over the past century. We discuss the origins of Neurospora as a model microbe, the immediate scientific impacts from work in this filamentous fungus, and how the introduction of other model organisms (i.e., Escherichia coli and Saccharomyces cerevisiae) redirected the focus of Neurospora research. Neurospora has and continues to inform our understanding of a myriad of basic scientific concepts and now has the opportunity to forge into the applied biosciences and biotechnology.

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