Date of Award


Document Type

Union College Only

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science






metacaspase, mushroom, mutant, apoptosis, commune


This study was designed to help elucidate the role of a metacaspase in the life cycle of the mushroom-producing fungus Schizophyllum commune. Results from a wide variety of previous studies indicate that apoptosis is essential to the development and maintenance of multicellular organisms. Metacaspases (found in fungi, plants and protists) are hypothesized to have similar activity to caspases, which are key components in apoptosis. The role of one metacaspase in S. commune will be assessed by disabling one of what is likely to be four genes that code for metacaspase proteins in this organism. A “knockout” DNA construct of the gene was constructed and the goal of this study is to integrate it homologously into the genome via DNA-mediated transformation, producing a “null mutant”. The null mutant, once identified, will be examined to determine any possible effects on mushroom production and reproduction in this species. We hypothesize that without a completely functioning apoptotic mechanism in the mutant strains to remove aged and sterile cells; normally reproductive fruiting bodies may develop into sterile structures or not form completely. The results of these experiments should help us gain an understanding of the mechanisms regulating mushroom development in this model organism.