Insights into adaptations to a near-obligate nematode endoparasitic lifestyle from the finished genome of Drechmeria coniospora.
Nematophagous fungi employ three distinct predatory strategies: nematode trapping, parasitism of females and eggs, and endoparasitism. While endoparasites play key roles in controlling nematode populations in nature, their application for integrated pest management is hindered by the limited understanding of their biology. We present a comparative analysis of a high quality finished genome assembly of Drechmeria coniospora, a model endoparasitic nematophagous fungus, integrated with a transcriptomic study. Adaptation of D. coniospora to its almost completely obligate endoparasitic lifestyle led to the simplification of many orthologous gene families involved in the saprophytic trophic mode, while maintaining orthologs of most known fungal pathogen-host interaction proteins, stress response circuits and putative effectors of the small secreted protein type. The need to adhere to and penetrate the host cuticle led to a selective radiation of surface proteins and hydrolytic enzymes. Although the endoparasite has a simplified secondary metabolome, it produces a novel peptaibiotic family that shows antibacterial, antifungal and nematicidal activities. Our analyses emphasize the basic malleability of the D. coniospora genome: loss of genes advantageous for the saprophytic lifestyle; modulation of elements that its cohort species utilize for entomopathogenesis; and expansion of protein families necessary for the nematode endoparasitic lifestyle.