June 1, 2021  |  

Integrative biology of a fungus: Using PacBio SMRT Sequencing to interrogate the genome, epigenome, and transcriptome of Neurospora crassa.

PacBio SMRT Sequencing has the unique ability to directly detect base modifications in addition to the nucleotide sequence of DNA. Because eukaryotes use base modifications to regulate gene expression, the absence or presence of epigenetic events relative to the location of genes is critical to elucidate the function of the modification. Therefore an integrated approach that combines multiple omic-scale assays is necessary to study complex organisms. Here, we present an integrated analysis of three sequencing experiments: 1) DNA sequencing, 2) base-modification detection, and 3) Iso-seq analysis, in Neurospora crassa, a filamentous fungus that has been used to make many landmark discoveries in biochemistry and genetics. We show that de novo assembly of a new strain yields complete assemblies of entire chromosomes, and additionally contains entire centromeric sequences. Base-modification analyses reveal candidate sites of increased interpulse duration (IPD) ratio, that may signify regions of 5mC, 5hmC, or 6mA base modifications. Iso-seq method provides full-length transcript evidence for comprehensive gene annotation, as well as context to the base-modifications in the newly assembled genome. Projects that integrate multiple genome-wide assays could become common practice for identifying genomic elements and understanding their function in new strains and organisms.


April 21, 2020  |  

Benchmarking Transposable Element Annotation Methods for Creation of a Streamlined, Comprehensive Pipeline

Sequencing technology and assembly algorithms have matured to the point that high-quality de novo assembly is possible for large, repetitive genomes. Current assemblies traverse transposable elements (TEs) and allow for annotation of TEs. There are numerous methods for each class of elements with unknown relative performance metrics. We benchmarked existing programs based on a curated library of rice TEs. Using the most robust programs, we created a comprehensive pipeline called Extensive de-novo TE Annotator (EDTA) that produces a condensed TE library for annotations of structurally intact and fragmented elements. EDTA is open-source and freely available: https://github.com/oushujun/EDTA.List of abbreviationsTETransposable ElementsLTRLong Terminal RepeatLINELong Interspersed Nuclear ElementSINEShort Interspersed Nuclear ElementMITEMiniature Inverted Transposable ElementTIRTerminal Inverted RepeatTSDTarget Site DuplicationTPTrue PositivesFPFalse PositivesTNTrue NegativeFNFalse NegativesGRFGeneric Repeat FinderEDTAExtensive de-novo TE Annotator


April 21, 2020  |  

Effector gene reshuffling involves dispensable mini-chromosomes in the wheat blast fungus.

Newly emerged wheat blast disease is a serious threat to global wheat production. Wheat blast is caused by a distinct, exceptionally diverse lineage of the fungus causing rice blast disease. Through sequencing a recent field isolate, we report a reference genome that includes seven core chromosomes and mini-chromosome sequences that harbor effector genes normally found on ends of core chromosomes in other strains. No mini-chromosomes were observed in an early field strain, and at least two from another isolate each contain different effector genes and core chromosome end sequences. The mini-chromosome is enriched in transposons occurring most frequently at core chromosome ends. Additionally, transposons in mini-chromosomes lack the characteristic signature for inactivation by repeat-induced point (RIP) mutation genome defenses. Our results, collectively, indicate that dispensable mini-chromosomes and core chromosomes undergo divergent evolutionary trajectories, and mini-chromosomes and core chromosome ends are coupled as a mobile, fast-evolving effector compartment in the wheat pathogen genome.


April 21, 2020  |  

Intercellular communication is required for trap formation in the nematode-trapping fungus Duddingtonia flagrans.

Nematode-trapping fungi (NTF) are a large and diverse group of fungi, which may switch from a saprotrophic to a predatory lifestyle if nematodes are present. Different fungi have developed different trapping devices, ranging from adhesive cells to constricting rings. After trapping, fungal hyphae penetrate the worm, secrete lytic enzymes and form a hyphal network inside the body. We sequenced the genome of Duddingtonia flagrans, a biotechnologically important NTF used to control nematode populations in fields. The 36.64 Mb genome encodes 9,927 putative proteins, among which are more than 638 predicted secreted proteins. Most secreted proteins are lytic enzymes, but more than 200 were classified as small secreted proteins (< 300 amino acids). 117 putative effector proteins were predicted, suggesting interkingdom communication during the colonization. As a first step to analyze the function of such proteins or other phenomena at the molecular level, we developed a transformation system, established the fluorescent proteins GFP and mCherry, adapted an assay to monitor protein secretion, and established gene-deletion protocols using homologous recombination or CRISPR/Cas9. One putative virulence effector protein, PefB, was transcriptionally induced during the interaction. We show that the mature protein is able to be imported into nuclei in Caenorhabditis elegans cells. In addition, we studied trap formation and show that cell-to-cell communication is required for ring closure. The availability of the genome sequence and the establishment of many molecular tools will open new avenues to studying this biotechnologically relevant nematode-trapping fungus.


April 21, 2020  |  

The conservation of polyol transporter proteins and their involvement in lichenized Ascomycota.

In lichen symbiosis, polyol transfer from green algae is important for acquiring the fungal carbon source. However, the existence of polyol transporter genes and their correlation with lichenization remain unclear. Here, we report candidate polyol transporter genes selected from the genome of the lichen-forming fungus (LFF) Ramalina conduplicans. A phylogenetic analysis using characterized polyol and monosaccharide transporter proteins and hypothetical polyol transporter proteins of R. conduplicans and various ascomycetous fungi suggested that the characterized yeast’ polyol transporters form multiple clades with the polyol transporter-like proteins selected from the diverse ascomycetous taxa. Thus, polyol transporter genes are widely conserved among Ascomycota, regardless of lichen-forming status. In addition, the phylogenetic clusters suggested that LFFs belonging to Lecanoromycetes have duplicated proteins in each cluster. Consequently, the number of sequences similar to characterized yeast’ polyol transporters were evaluated using the genomes of 472 species or strains of Ascomycota. Among these, LFFs belonging to Lecanoromycetes had greater numbers of deduced polyol transporter proteins. Thus, various polyol transporters are conserved in Ascomycota and polyol transporter genes appear to have expanded during the evolution of Lecanoromycetes. Copyright © 2019 British Mycological Society. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


April 21, 2020  |  

Population Genome Sequencing of the Scab Fungal Species Venturia inaequalis, Venturia pirina, Venturia aucupariae and Venturia asperata.

The Venturia genus comprises fungal species that are pathogens on Rosaceae host plants, including V. inaequalis and V. asperata on apple, V. aucupariae on sorbus and V. pirina on pear. Although the genetic structure of V. inaequalis populations has been investigated in detail, genomic features underlying these subdivisions remain poorly understood. Here, we report whole genome sequencing of 87 Venturia strains that represent each species and each population within V. inaequalis We present a PacBio genome assembly for the V. inaequalis EU-B04 reference isolate. The size of selected genomes was determined by flow cytometry, and varied from 45 to 93 Mb. Genome assemblies of V. inaequalis and V. aucupariae contain a high content of transposable elements (TEs), most of which belong to the Gypsy or Copia LTR superfamilies and have been inactivated by Repeat-Induced Point mutations. The reference assembly of V. inaequalis presents a mosaic structure of GC-equilibrated regions that mainly contain predicted genes and AT-rich regions, mainly composed of TEs. Six pairs of strains were identified as clones. Single-Nucleotide Polymorphism (SNP) analysis between these clones revealed a high number of SNPs that are mostly located in AT-rich regions due to misalignments and allowed determining a false discovery rate. The availability of these genome sequences is expected to stimulate genetics and population genomics research of Venturia pathogens. Especially, it will help understanding the evolutionary history of Venturia species that are pathogenic on different hosts, a history that has probably been substantially influenced by TEs.Copyright © 2019 Le Cam et al.


April 21, 2020  |  

Genomic Plasticity Mediated by Transposable Elements in the Plant Pathogenic Fungus Colletotrichum higginsianum.

Phytopathogen genomes are under constant pressure to change, as pathogens are locked in an evolutionary arms race with their hosts, where pathogens evolve effector genes to manipulate their hosts, whereas the hosts evolve immune components to recognize the products of these genes. Colletotrichum higginsianum (Ch), a fungal pathogen with no known sexual morph, infects Brassicaceae plants including Arabidopsis thaliana. Previous studies revealed that Ch differs in its virulence toward various Arabidopsis thaliana ecotypes, indicating the existence of coevolutionary selective pressures. However, between-strain genomic variations in Ch have not been studied. Here, we sequenced and assembled the genome of a Ch strain, resulting in a highly contiguous genome assembly, which was compared with the chromosome-level genome assembly of another strain to identify genomic variations between strains. We found that the two closely related strains vary in terms of large-scale rearrangements, the existence of strain-specific regions, and effector candidate gene sets and that these variations are frequently associated with transposable elements (TEs). Ch has a compartmentalized genome consisting of gene-sparse, TE-dense regions with more effector candidate genes and gene-dense, TE-sparse regions harboring conserved genes. Additionally, analysis of the conservation patterns and syntenic regions of effector candidate genes indicated that the two strains vary in their effector candidate gene sets because of de novo evolution, horizontal gene transfer, or gene loss after divergence. Our results reveal mechanisms for generating genomic diversity in this asexual pathogen, which are important for understanding its adaption to hosts. © The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution.


April 21, 2020  |  

Comprehensive analysis of full genome sequence and Bd-milRNA/target mRNAs to discover the mechanism of hypovirulence in Botryosphaeria dothidea strains on pear infection with BdCV1 and BdPV1

Pear ring rot disease, mainly caused by Botryosphaeria dothidea, is widespread in most pear and apple-growing regions. Mycoviruses are used for biocontrol, especially in fruit tree disease. BdCV1 (Botryosphaeria dothidea chrysovirus 1) and BdPV1 (Botryosphaeria dothidea partitivirus 1) influence the biological characteristics of B. dothidea strains. BdCV1 is a potential candidate for the control of fungal disease. Therefore, it is vital to explore interactions between B. dothidea and mycovirus to clarify the pathogenic mechanisms of B. dothidea and hypovirulence of B. dothidea in pear. A high-quality full-length genome sequence of the B. dothidea LW-Hubei isolate was obtained using Single Molecule Real-Time sequencing. It has high repeat sequence with 9.3% and DNA methylation existence in the genome. The 46.34?Mb genomes contained 14,091 predicted genes, which of 13,135 were annotated. B. dothidea was predicted to express 3833 secreted proteins. In bioinformatics analysis, 351 CAZy members, 552 transporters, 128 kinases, and 1096 proteins associated with plant-host interaction (PHI) were identified. RNA-silencing components including two endoribonuclease Dicer, four argonaute (Ago) and three RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp) molecules were identified and expressed in response to mycovirus infection. Horizontal transfer of the LW-C and LW-P strains indicated that BdCV1 induced host gene silencing in LW-C to suppress BdPV1 transmission. To investigate the role of RNA-silencing in B. dothidea defense, we constructed four small RNA libraries and sequenced B. dothidea micro-like RNAs (Bd-milRNAs) produced in response to BdCV1 and BdPV1 infection. Among these, 167 conserved and 68 candidate novel Bd-milRNAs were identified, of which 161 conserved and 20 novel Bd-milRNA were differentially expressed. WEGO analysis revealed involvement of the differentially expressed Bd-milRNA-targeted genes in metabolic process, catalytic activity, cell process and response to stress or stimulus. BdCV1 had a greater effect on the phenotype, virulence, conidiomata, vertical and horizontal transmission ability, and mycelia cellular structure biological characteristics of B. dothidea strains than BdPV1 and virus-free strains. The results obtained in this study indicate that mycovirus regulates biological processes in B. dothidea through the combined interaction of antiviral defense mediated by RNA-silencing and milRNA-mediated regulation of target gene mRNA expression.


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