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Dr. Thomas M. Hammond
Genetics, Genomics, and Fungi!
Illinois State University
The Hammond Lab is primarily interested in an epigenetic process called meiotic silencing by
unpaired DNA (MSUD) and a common phenomenon in fungi known as spore killing. We are also
interested in viruses of fungi and fungi that infect plants.
Most of our projects involve an organism called Neurospora crassa.
This filamentous fungus was first made famous in the 1940s by Beadle
and Tatum, who were among the first to recognize its usefulness for
genetic studies. Since then, experimentation with N. crassa by
geneticists, biochemists, and other scientists from around the world have
contributed to making it an excellent model organism for discovering
and understanding key biological processes.
One of our most exciting projects aims to understand a mysterious
aspect of MSUD. Just like humans, N. crassa progeny inherit
chromosomes from a male parent and a female parent. MSUD carefully
compares the chromosomes from each parent to make sure that the genes
on each chromosome are perfectly matched between each parent. Any
gene out of place is turned off during reproduction. This process may
help protect the fungus from rogue genes or viruses. IN the near future,
we hope to learn how this process works and how widespread it is
among diverse organisms.
Spore killer is another one of exciting projects. Spore killers exemplify
what can happen when a gene (or group of genes) finds a way to
improve its own chances of survival at the expense of other genes in the
genome. Although we have focused most of our efforts on Spore killer2 from Neurospora fungi, we are interested in Spore killers from other
fungi as well. We are currently collaborating with scientists at the
National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research in Peoria IL to
find and characterize a Spore killer in an agriculturally important plant
pathogen called Fusarium. Studies of Spore killers could one day give
us the ability to slightly adjust the genome of a whole population of
pathogenic fungi to make them less harmful.
N. crassa growing
on a petri dish
Fluorescent protein-tagged
MSUD proteins surrounding a
nucleus during meiosis.
Sexual spores of N. crassa
Selected publications:
Harvey, A. M., D. G. Rehard, K. M. Groskreutz, D. R. Kuntz, K. J. Sharp, P. K. T. Shiu, and T. M.
Hammond, (2014) “A Critical Component of Meiotic Drive in Neurospora Is Located Near a
Chromosome Rearrangement” Genetics, in press.
Hammond, T.M., H. Xiao, E. C. Boone, L. M. Decker, S. A. Lee, T. D. Perdue, P. J. Pukkila, and
P.K.T. Shiu (2013) "Novel Proteins Required for Meiotic Silencing by Unpaired DNA and siRNA
Generation in Neurospora crassa" Genetics, 194:91-100. [PMID:23502675].
Hammond Lab Research 2014