Fungi’s survival secrets

MSU College of Natural Science
Tuo Wang, Michigan State University’s inaugural Carl H. Brubaker, Jr. Endowed Associate Professor. Credit: MSU College of Natural Science

Researchers from Michigan State University have helped provide the latest insights on this front with a report published in the journal Nature Communications. The team showed how microorganisms known as halophilic fungi stand up to high salt concentrations that would be lethal to other microbes.

“Halophilic fungi have a remarkable talent for thriving in extremely salty environments where other microorganisms can’t survive,” said Tuo Wang, a corresponding author of the new study. Wang is also the inaugural Carl H. Brubaker Jr. Endowed Associate Professor in the Department of Chemistry in the College of Natural Science.

“While this ability can pose challenges in areas like food preservation, where these microbes grow well even in salty conditions, it also opens doors to exciting possibilities,” Wang said.

For instance, such fungi could be harnessed to replace fresh water with seawater in industrial processes, potentially easing water scarcity concerns and reducing the risk of contamination from other microbes.

In the new report, Wang and his colleagues revealed how halophilic fungi rearrange their cell walls to minimize water loss and uphold their structure in extremely salty settings.

This article was first published by the MSU College of Natural Science.

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