Thigmo responses: The fungal sense of touch

Mariana Cruz Almeida, Alex Brand*, Joseph Heitman (Editor), Neil A. R. Gow (Editor)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


The growth and development of most fungi take place on a two-dimensional surface or within a three-dimensional matrix. The fungal sense of touch is therefore critical for fungi in the interpretation of their environment and often signals the switch to a new developmental state. Contact sensing, or thigmo-based responses, include thigmo differentiation, such as the induction of invasion structures by plant pathogens in response to topography; thigmonasty, where contact with a motile prey rapidly triggers its capture; and thigmotropism, where the direction of hyphal growth is guided by physical features in the environment. Like plants and some bacteria, fungi grow as walled cells. Despite the well-demonstrated importance of thigmo responses in numerous stages of fungal growth and development, it is not known how fungal cells sense contact through the relatively rigid structure of the cell wall. However, while sensing mechanisms at the molecular level are not entirely understood, the downstream signaling pathways that are activated by contact sensing are being elucidated. In the majority of cases, the response to contact is complemented by chemical cues and both are required, either sequentially or simultaneously, to elicit normal developmental responses. The importance of a sense of touch in the lifestyles and development of diverse fungi is highlighted in this review, and the candidate molecular mechanisms that may be involved in fungal contact sensing are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberFUNK-0040-2016
JournalMicrobiology spectrum
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 10 Mar 2017

Bibliographical note

Microbiology Spectrum publishes commissioned reviews on important and relevant topics in the microbial sciences.


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