Dr. Monika Schmoll

Senior Scientist
University of Vienna
University of Vienna
Department of Microbiology and Ecosystem Science
Division of Terrestrial Ecosystem Research, Djerassiplatz 1
A-1030 Vienna
Phone: +4314277
Phone Extension: 91261


Fungi are among the most crucial microbes in nature. They degrade plant material by highly efficient hydrolases and are crucial for the microbial contribution to the carbon cycle, but they can also act as harmful plant- and even human pathogens or as plant beneficial organisms, supporting the hidden nutrient- and information highways in natural enviroments. For all these functions, efficient sensing and signaling pathways are required to properly adjust to a competitive habitat and to succeed in colonization and reproduction. While optimized enzyme production ensures efficient nutrient acquisition without attracting competitors, secondary metabolite production serves as chemical language for intra- and interspecies and even interkingdom communication as well as weaponry to defend nutrient sources.

Both enzyme production and secondary metabolism are regulated in response to different carbon sources and to light. Additionally, these environmental cues crucially impact sexual and asexual reproduction of fungi. Consequently, energy resources distributed to these tasks under these different conditions have to be balanced to optimally serve the organism‘s needs.

We are therefore studying regulation of signaling pathways and their output in terms of enzyme production and secondary metabolism. In particular, we investigate the light dependent effects impacting these outputs as well as the responsible photoreceptors. Additionally, we are working on sexual development in fungi and on the related chemical communication, which constitutes the connection to secondary metabolism. In order to support our comprehensive omics analyses, we are continually working on improvements of genome annotation in diverse fungi.
The potent plant cell wall degrader Trichoderma reesei serves as our model organism for investigation of nutrient sensing, signaling and interactions with plants, bacteria and other fungi. The data obtained from these studies will be an optimal starting point for evaluating regulation of nutrient sensing and secondary metabolism in complex natural soil environments.



  • Degradation of cellulose and plant biomass
  • Nutrient sensing and signaling in microbes
  • Microbial light response
  • Chemical intra- and interkingdom communication of fungi
  • Sexual development of fungi
  • Genome annotation



  • FungalSENSES – Missing links in signal transduction in Trichoderma reesei
    Optimized enzyme production is of crucial importance for fungi in order to succeed in their competitive habitat. Therefore they apply sophisticated signaling pathways to balance enzyme production with growth, defense and reproductive tasks. In the course of this project, we investigate the heterotrimeric G-protein pathway for specific target mechanisms in the downstream regulation of enzyme production as well as the coordination of sensing and posttranscriptional regulation. Moreover, we follow up the sensing and signaling cascade involved in glucose sensing and enzyme production. Using transcriptome and proteome analysis as well as investigation of chemotropic responses to diverse carbon sources, we aim  to provide a detailed signaling landscape.
    Due to its versatility and well developed molecular tools, we use the model organism for plant cell wall degradation and cellulase regulation, Trichoderma reesei for this project.
    Our results so far indicate that the glucose signal represents the presence of degradable plant litter and enables the fungus to distinguish between live plants and dead biomass. Additionally, glucose sensing is crucial for fungal interkingdom communication with plants. If glucose sensing is abolished, signaling preferences appear to shift towards secondary metabolite regulation, which includes a feedback mechanism of sensing and biosynthesis of sorbicillin components.

    This project is funded by: FWF (Austrian Research Fund) P31464 (ongoing) 
    Investigated by: Monika Schmoll

  • POSTTri – Posttranscriptional regulation in Trichoderma reesei
    Enzyme production was traditionally assumed to be regulated at the transcriptional level. However, we could recently show that this regulation also includes a posttranscriptional part. Therefore we aim to investigate processes which impact enzyme regulation at different levels after transcript biosynthesis including RNA stability, translation, ribosomal protein biosynthesis and protein degradation in a functional genomics approach.

    This project is funded by: FWF (Austrian Research Fund) P30893 (ongoing)
    Investigated by: Monika Schmoll

  • TALKoutTOXINS – Understanding fungal chemical communication to fight mycotoxin production
    Fungi interact with their environment by sending and receiving chemical signals, which is crucial for successful reproduction with suitable mating partners, but also for fighting competitors and pathogens as wel as for communication with plants. However, these chemical signals are often represented by harmful mycotoxins, which threaten human health if present in food crops. Therefore we investigated regulation of secondary metabolism upon encounter of same and different species as well as the role of G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs) in the respective response. Additionally we elucidated the contribution of two important regulators of sexual devleopment, enzyme production and light response: VEL1 and ENV1.
    Our results show a profound influence of GPCRs on chemical communication. Responses of common plant pathogens producing harmful toxins to plant beneficial fungi range from increases to decreases of selected mycotoxins.

    This project is funded by: NFB/GFF (Gesellschaft für Forschungsförderung NÖ) LS16-004 (project completed 2021)
    Investigated by: Monika Schmoll

  • FEEDorFIGHT – The light dependent balance between substrate degradation and secondary metabolism in fungi
    Genome wide analysis of gene regulation upon growth on different carbon sources in constant light or constant darkness and in dependence of carbon catabolite repression (CCR) revealed a secondary metabolite cluster to be differentially regulated by CCR in a light dependent manner. Consequently, we investigated a potential connection between regulation of enzyme expression and secondary metabolite production as well as light response. We performed transcriptome analysis, functional genomics and chromatin analyses (MNase Seq, ChiP Seq) to delineate levels of interconnection and crosstalk between these regulation pathways.
    Our results revealed a connection between secondary metabolism and enzyme regulation as well as regulation of the SOR cluster (responsible for sorbicillin production) in response to light and carbon sources. Chromatin analyses showed distinct regulation patterns under these conditions as well and in dependence of the photoreceptor BLR1 and the carbon catabolite repressor CRE1.

    This project is funded by: FWF (Austrian Research Fund) P26935 (project completed 2018)
    Investigated by: Monika Schmoll



  • TrichoCosm – The Trichoderma Community sequencing project CSP-503424
    „Genus-wide genomics oft the biomass-degrading and plant beneficial Trichoderma
    JGI (Joint Genome Institute, USA)

    In this project, the genomes of the majority of currently known Trichoderma species (around 400) shall be sequenced by JGI and annotated by an international expert group. We are contributing analysis of signal transduction pathways and coordinate work by colleagues on the topics signaling, sexual development and stress response.
    Investigated by: M. Schmoll
    Cooperation partners: Randy Berka (Archer Daniels Midland, ADM) and Irina Druzhinina (Nanjing University, China)



  1. Schmoll M. (2022). Trichoderma reesei. Trends in Microbiology, 30(4), 403–404. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tim.2021.12.008
  2. Beier, S., Hinterdobler, W., Monroy, A. A., Bazafkan, H., & Schmoll, M. (2020). The kinase USK1 regulates cellulase gene expression and secondary metabolite biosynthesis in Trichoderma reesei. Frontiers in Microbiology, 11, 974. https://doi.org/10.3389/fmicb.2020.00974
  3. Rodriguez-Iglesias, A., & Schmoll, M. (2019). Protein phosphatases regulate growth, development, cellulases and secondary metabolism in Trichoderma reesei. Scientific Reports, 9(1), 10995. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-47421-z
  4. Hitzenhammer, E., Büschl, C., Sulyok, M., Schuhmacher, R., Kluger, B., Wischnitzki, E., & Schmoll, M. (2019). YPR2 is a regulator of light modulated carbon and secondary metabolism in Trichoderma reesei. BMC Genomics, 20(1), 211. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12864-019-5574-8
  5. Stappler, E., Dattenböck, C., Tisch, D., & Schmoll, M. (2017). Analysis of light- and carbon-specific transcriptomes implicates a class of G-Protein-Coupled Receptors in cellulose sensing. mSphere, 2(3), e00089-17. https://doi.org/10.1128/mSphere.00089-17
  6. Bazafkan, H., Beier, S., Stappler, E., Böhmdorfer, S., Oberlerchner, J. T., Sulyok, M., & Schmoll, M. (2017). SUB1 has photoreceptor dependent and independent functions in sexual development and secondary metabolism in Trichoderma reesei. Molecular Microbiology, 106(5), 742–759. https://doi.org/10.1111/mmi.13842
  7. Monroy, A. A., Stappler, E., Schuster, A., Sulyok, M., & Schmoll, M. (2017). A CRE1- regulated cluster is responsible for light dependent production of dihydrotrichotetronin in Trichoderma reesei. PloS ONE, 12(8), e0182530. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0182530
  8. Schmoll, M., Dattenböck, C., Carreras-Villaseñor, N., Mendoza-Mendoza, A., Tisch, D., Alemán, M. I., Baker, S. E., Brown, C., Cervantes-Badillo, M. G., Cetz-Chel, J., Cristobal-Mondragon, G. R., Delaye, L., Esquivel-Naranjo, E. U., Frischmann, A., Gallardo-Negrete, J., García-Esquivel, M., Gomez-Rodriguez, E. Y., Greenwood, D. R., Hernández-Oñate, M., Kruszewska, J. S., … Herrera-Estrella, A. (2016). The genomes of three uneven siblings: footprints of the lifestyles of three Trichoderma species. Microbiology and Molecular Biology Reviews : MMBR, 80(1), 205–327. https://doi.org/10.1128/MMBR.00040-15
  9. Bazafkan, H., Dattenböck, C., Böhmdorfer, S., Tisch, D., Stappler, E., & Schmoll, M. (2015). Mating type-dependent partner sensing as mediated by VEL1 in Trichoderma reesei. Molecular Microbiology, 96(6), 1103–1118. https://doi.org/10.1111/mmi.12993
  10. Lokhandwala, J., Hopkins, H. C., Rodriguez-Iglesias, A., Dattenböck, C., Schmoll, M., & Zoltowski, B. D. (2015). Structural biochemistry of a fungal LOV domain photoreceptor reveals an evolutionarily conserved pathway integrating light and oxidative stress. Structure, 23(1), 116–125. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.str.2014.10.020
  11. Tisch, D., Schuster, A., & Schmoll, M. (2014). Crossroads between light response and nutrient signalling: ENV1 and PhLP1 act as mutual regulatory pair in Trichoderma reesei. BMC Genomics, 15(1), 425. https://doi.org/10.1186/1471-2164-15-425
  12. Seidl, V., Seibel, C., Kubicek, C. P., & Schmoll, M. (2009). Sexual development in the industrial workhorse Trichoderma reesei. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 106(33), 13909–13914. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.0904936106