Whole-genome comparisons of Penicillium spp. reveals secondary metabolic gene clusters and candidate genes associated with fungal aggressiveness during apple fruit decay.
Blue mold is a postharvest rot of pomaceous fruits caused by Penicillium expansum and a number of other Penicillium species. The genome of the highly aggressive P. expansum strain R19 was re-sequenced and analyzed together with the genome of the less aggressive P. solitum strain RS1. Whole genome scale similarities and differences were examined. A phylogenetic analysis of P. expansum, P. solitum, and several closely related Penicillium species revealed that the two pathogens isolated from decayed apple with blue mold symptoms are not each other’s closest relatives. Among a total of 10,560 and 10,672 protein coding sequences respectively, a comparative genomics analysis revealed 41 genes in P. expansum R19 and 43 genes in P. solitum RS1 that are unique to these two species. These genes may be associated with pome fruit-fungal interactions, subsequent decay processes, and mycotoxin accumulation. An intact patulin gene cluster consisting of 15 biosynthetic genes was identified in the patulin producing P. expansum strain R19, while only a remnant, seven-gene cluster was identified in the patulin-deficient P. solitum strain. However, P. solitum contained a large number of additional secondary metabolite gene clusters, indicating that this species has the potential capacity to produce an array of known as well as not-yet-identified products of possible toxicological or biotechnological interest.