Circadian clocks and the regulation of virulence in fungi: Getting up to speed

Montserrat A. Hevia, Paulo Canessa, Luis F. Larrondo

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


You cannot escape time. Therefore, it seems wise to learn how to keep track of it and use it to your advantage. Circadian clocks are molecular circuits that allow organisms to temporally coordinate a plethora of processes, including gene expression, with a close to 24 h rhythm, optimizing cellular function in synchrony with daily environmental cycles. The molecular bases of these clocks have been extensively studied in the fungus Neurospora crassa, providing a detailed molecular description. Surprisingly, there is scarce molecular information of clocks in fungi other than Neurospora, despite the existence of rhythmic phenomena in many fungal species, including pathogenic ones. This review will comment on the overall importance of clocks, what is known in Neurospora and what has been described in other fungi including new insights on the evolution of fungal clock components. The molecular description of the circadian system of the phytopathogenic fungus Botrytis cinerea will be revisited, as well as time-of-the-day variation in host-pathogen interaction dynamics, utilizing an Arabidopsis-Botrytis system, including also what is known regarding circadian regulation of defense mechanisms in the Arabidopsis thaliana plant model. Finally, this review will mention how little is known about circadian regulation of human pathogenic fungi, commenting on potential future directions and the overall perspective of fungal circadian studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)147-155
Number of pages9
JournalSeminars in Cell and Developmental Biology
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2016


  • Biological rhythms
  • Circadian clock
  • Fungal virulence
  • Plant pathogenic fungi

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology


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