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Multicellularity SIGNED

The genetic basis of the convergent evolution of fungal multicellularity

Total Cost €


EC-Contrib. €






Project "Multicellularity" data sheet

The following table provides information about the project.


Organization address
city: SZEGED
postcode: 6726

contact info
title: n.a.
name: n.a.
surname: n.a.
function: n.a.
email: n.a.
telephone: n.a.
fax: n.a.

 Coordinator Country Hungary [HU]
 Project website
 Total cost 1˙486˙500 €
 EC max contribution 1˙486˙500 € (100%)
 Programme 1. H2020-EU.1.1. (EXCELLENT SCIENCE - European Research Council (ERC))
 Code Call ERC-2017-STG
 Funding Scheme ERC-STG
 Starting year 2018
 Duration (year-month-day) from 2018-01-01   to  2022-12-31


Take a look of project's partnership.

# participants  country  role  EC contrib. [€] 


 Project objective

The evolution of multicellularity (MC) has been one of the major transitions in the history of life. Despite immense interest in its evolutionary origins, the genomic changes leading to the emergence of MC, especially that of complex MC (differentiated 3-dimensional structures) are poorly known. Previous comparative genomics projects aiming to understand the genetic bases of MC in one way or another relied on gene content-based analyses. However, a pattern emerging from these studies is that gene content provides only an incomplete explanation for the evolution of MC even at ancient timescales. We hypothesize that besides gene duplications, changes to cis-regulatory elements and gene expression patterns (including protein isoforms) have significantly contributed to the evolution of MC. To test this hypothesis, we will deploy a combination of computational methods, phylogenomics, comparative transcriptomics and genome-wide assays of regulatory elements. Our research focuses on fungi as a model system, where complex MC evolved convergently and in subsequent two steps. Fungi are ideal models to tackle this question for several reasons: a) multicellularity in fungi evolved multiple times, b) there are rich genomic resources (>500 complete genomes), c) complex multicellular structures can be routinely grown in the lab and d) genetic manipulations are feasible for several cornerstone species. We set out to examine which genes participate in the building of simple and complex multicellular structures and whether the evolution of regulome complexity and gene expression patterns can explain the evolution of MC better than can traditionally assayed sources of genetic innovations (e.g. gene duplications). Ultimately, our goal is to reach a general synthesis on the genetic bases of the evolution of MC and that of organismal complexity.


year authors and title journal last update
List of publications.
2018 Varga T., Krizsan K., Szarkandi GJ, Dima B., Kiss B., Foldi Cs., Sanchez-Garcia M., Sanchez-Ramirez S., Szollosi GJ., M., Hibbett DS., Vagvolgyi Cs., Papp T., Nagy GL.
Understanding the evolution of mushroom-forming fungi: macro-evolutionary analyses of a 5300-species phylogeny of Agaricomycetes.
published pages: p.104., ISSN: , DOI:
14th European Conference on Fungal Genetics 25-28. February. 2018. 2019-10-15
2019 Krisztina Krizsán, Éva Almási, Zsolt Merényi, Neha Sahu, Máté Virágh, Tamás Kószó, Stephen Mondo, Brigitta Kiss, Balázs Bálint, Ursula Kües, Kerrie Barry, Judit Cseklye, Botond Hegedüs, Bernard Henrissat, Jenifer Johnson, Anna Lipzen, Robin A. Ohm, István Nagy, Jasmyn Pangilinan, Juying Yan, Yi Xiong, Igor V. Grigoriev, David S. Hibbett, László G. Nagy
Transcriptomic atlas of mushroom development reveals conserved genes behind complex multicellularity in fungi
published pages: 7409-7418, ISSN: 0027-8424, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1817822116
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 116/15 2019-10-15
2019 Varga T., Balint B., Merenyi Zs., Grigoriev IV., Nagy GL.
COMPARE1K+, a bioinformatic pipeline and an R package to analyse the evolution of thousands of genomes
published pages: p.245., ISSN: , DOI:
Hungarian Molecular Life Science 29-31. March. 2019. 2019-10-15
2019 Merenyi Zs., Prasanna AN., Wang Z., Kovacs K., Hegedus B., Balint B., Papp B., Townsend JP., Nagy GL
Unmatched level of molecular convergence among deeply divergent complex multicellular fungi.
published pages: , ISSN: , DOI:
EVOLUTION of COMPLEX LIFE 15-17. May 2019. 2019-10-15
2019 Balint B., Merenyi Zs., Varga T., Grigoriev IV., Nagy GL.
Evolutionary analysis of thousands of genomes with COMPARE1K+.
published pages: , ISSN: , DOI:
NeLLi – Symposium on New Lineages of Life 2-3. April 2019. 2019-10-15
2018 Merenyi Zs., Prasanna AN., Almasi E., Krizsan K., Nagy GL.
The Origins of Complex Multicellularity in Agarico- and Pezizomycotina.
published pages: , ISSN: , DOI:
A Magyar Mikrobiológiai Társaság 2018. évi Nagygyűlése és a XIII. Fermentációs Kollokvium 17-19. October 2018 2019-10-15
2018 Claude Murat, Thibaut Payen, Benjamin Noel, Alan Kuo, Emmanuelle Morin, Juan Chen, Annegret Kohler, Krisztina Krizsán, Raffaella Balestrini, Corinne Da Silva, Barbara Montanini, Mathieu Hainaut, Elisabetta Levati, Kerrie W. Barry, Beatrice Belfiori, Nicolas Cichocki, Alicia Clum, Rhyan B. Dockter, Laure Fauchery, Julie Guy, Mirco Iotti, François Le Tacon, Erika A. Lindquist, Anna Lipzen, Fabienn
Pezizomycetes genomes reveal the molecular basis of ectomycorrhizal truffle lifestyle
published pages: 1956-1965, ISSN: 2397-334X, DOI: 10.1038/s41559-018-0710-4
Nature Ecology & Evolution 2/12 2019-10-15
2018 Nagy, GL.
Many roads to convergence
published pages: 125-126, ISSN: 0036-8075, DOI: 10.1126/science.aau2409
Science 361/6398 2019-10-15
2019 Kiss E., Hegedus B., Varga T., Merenyi Zs., Balint B., Koszo T., Krizsan K., Prasanna AN., Nagy GL.
Comparative genomics reveals the origin of hyphal morphogenesis and fungal multicellularity.
published pages: p.15., ISSN: , DOI:
30th Fungal Genetics Conference 12-17. March. 2019. 2019-10-15
2019 Kiss, E., Hegedus, B., Varga, T., Merenyi, Z., Koszo, T., Balint, B., Prasanna, AN., Krizsan K., Riquelme, M., Takeshita, N., Nagy, LG.
Comparative genomics reveals the origin of fungal hyphae and multicellularity
published pages: , ISSN: 2041-1723, DOI: 10.1101/546531
Nature Communications 2019-10-15

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