Hydrogenosomes of Anaerobic Fungi: An Alternative Way to Adapt to Anaerobic Environments

  • Johannes H. P. Hackstein
  • Scott E. Baker
  • Jaap J. van Hellemond
  • Aloysius G. M. TielensEmail author
Part of the Microbiology Monographs book series (MICROMONO, volume 9)


Fungi form a very diverse group of eukaryotes. The majority of investigated fungi contain mitochondria and are capable of oxidative phosphorylation. On the other hand, anaerobically functioning fungi, found as symbionts in the gastrointestinal tract of many herbivorous mammals, contain hydrogenosomes. These organelles of mitochondrial origin are also found in multiple classes of anaerobically functioning protists. Hydrogenosomes produce hydrogen as an end product of a fermentative energy metabolism and produce ATP by substrate-level phosphorylation. However, the hydrogenosomes of the anaerobic fungi Neocallimastix and Piromyces differ from the hydrogenosomes of trichomonads and those of anaerobic ciliates in the way they convert pyruvate to acetyl-CoA. The hydrogenosomes of these anaerobic fungi use pyruvate:formate lyase (PFL), whereas trichomonads use pyruvate-ferredoxin oxidoreductase (PFO), and anaerobic ciliates use pyruvate dehydrogenase (PDH) for the degradation of pyruvate. The characteristics and role of these hydrogenosomes in the energy metabolism of anaerobic fungi are discussed.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Johannes H. P. Hackstein
    • 1
  • Scott E. Baker
    • 2
  • Jaap J. van Hellemond
    • 3
  • Aloysius G. M. Tielens
    • 3
    • 4
    Email author
  1. 1.Faculty of ScienceIWWR, Radboud University NijmegenNijmegenThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Earth and Biological Sciences Directorate Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Environmental Molecular Science DivisionBiosystems Dynamics and Simulation GroupRichlandUSA
  3. 3.Department of Medical Microbiology and Infectious DiseasesErasmus MC University Medical Center RotterdamRotterdamThe Netherlands
  4. 4.Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Department of Biochemistry and Cell BiologyUtrecht UniversityUtrechtThe Netherlands

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