April 21, 2020  |  

Defining transgene insertion sites and off-target effects of homology-based gene silencing informs the use of functional genomics tools in Phytophthora infestans.

DNA transformation and homology-based transcriptional silencing are frequently used to assess gene function in Phytophthora. Since unplanned side-effects of these tools are not well-characterized, we used P. infestans to study plasmid integration sites and whether knockdowns caused by homology-dependent silencing spreads to other genes. Insertions occurred both in gene-dense and gene-sparse regions but disproportionately near the 5′ ends of genes, which disrupted native coding sequences. Microhomology at the recombination site between plasmid and chromosome was common. Studies of transformants silenced for twelve different gene targets indicated that neighbors within 500-nt were often co-silenced, regardless of whether hairpin or sense constructs were employed and the direction of transcription of the target. However, cis-spreading of silencing did not occur in all transformants obtained with the same plasmid. Genome-wide studies indicated that unlinked genes with partial complementarity with the silencing-inducing transgene were not usually down-regulated. We learned that hairpin or sense transgenes were not co-silenced with the target in all transformants, which informs how screens for silencing should be performed. We conclude that transformation and gene silencing can be reliable tools for functional genomics in Phytophthora but must be used carefully, especially by testing for the spread of silencing to genes flanking the target.


April 21, 2020  |  

Cellular Dynamics and Genomic Identity of Centromeres in Cereal Blast Fungus.

Precise kinetochore-microtubule interactions ensure faithful chromosome segregation in eukaryotes. Centromeres, identified as scaffolding sites for kinetochore assembly, are among the most rapidly evolving chromosomal loci in terms of the DNA sequence and length and organization of intrinsic elements. Neither the centromere structure nor the kinetochore dynamics is well studied in plant-pathogenic fungi. Here, we sought to understand the process of chromosome segregation in the rice blast fungus Magnaporthe oryzae High-resolution imaging of green fluorescent protein (GFP)-tagged inner kinetochore proteins CenpA and CenpC revealed unusual albeit transient declustering of centromeres just before anaphase separation of chromosomes in M. oryzae Strikingly, the declustered centromeres positioned randomly at the spindle midzone without an apparent metaphase plate per se Using CenpA chromatin immunoprecipitation followed by deep sequencing, all seven centromeres in M. oryzae were found to be regional, spanning 57-kb to 109-kb transcriptionally poor regions. Highly AT-rich and heavily methylated DNA sequences were the only common defining features of all the centromeres in rice blast. Lack of centromere-specific DNA sequence motifs or repetitive elements suggests an epigenetic specification of centromere function in M. oryzae PacBio genome assemblies and synteny analyses facilitated comparison of the centromeric/pericentromeric regions in distinct isolates of rice blast and wheat blast and in Magnaporthiopsis poae Overall, this study revealed unusual centromere dynamics and precisely identified the centromere loci in the top model fungal pathogens that belong to Magnaporthales and cause severe losses in the global production of food crops and turf grasses.IMPORTANCEMagnaporthe oryzae is an important fungal pathogen that causes a loss of 10% to 30% of the annual rice crop due to the devastating blast disease. In most organisms, kinetochores are clustered together or arranged at the metaphase plate to facilitate synchronized anaphase separation of sister chromatids in mitosis. In this study, we showed that the initially clustered kinetochores separate and position randomly prior to anaphase in M. oryzae Centromeres in M. oryzae occupy large genomic regions and form on AT-rich DNA without any common sequence motifs. Overall, this study identified atypical kinetochore dynamics and mapped functional centromeres in M. oryzae to define the roles of centromeric and pericentric boundaries in kinetochore assembly on epigenetically specified centromere loci. This study should pave the way for further understanding of the contribution of heterochromatin in genome stability and virulence of the blast fungus and its related species of high economic importance.Copyright © 2019 Yadav et al.


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  |  

Genome mining identifies cepacin as a plant-protective metabolite of the biopesticidal bacterium Burkholderia ambifaria.

Beneficial microorganisms are widely used in agriculture for control of plant pathogens, but a lack of efficacy and safety information has limited the exploitation of multiple promising biopesticides. We applied phylogeny-led genome mining, metabolite analyses and biological control assays to define the efficacy of Burkholderia ambifaria, a naturally beneficial bacterium with proven biocontrol properties but potential pathogenic risk. A panel of 64 B.?ambifaria strains demonstrated significant antimicrobial activity against priority plant pathogens. Genome sequencing, specialized metabolite biosynthetic gene cluster mining and metabolite analysis revealed an armoury of known and unknown pathways within B.?ambifaria. The biosynthetic gene cluster responsible for the production of the metabolite cepacin was identified and directly shown to mediate protection of germinating crops against Pythium damping-off disease. B.?ambifaria maintained biopesticidal protection and overall fitness in the soil after deletion of its third replicon, a non-essential plasmid associated with virulence in Burkholderia?cepacia complex bacteria. Removal of the third replicon reduced B.?ambifaria persistence in a murine respiratory infection model. Here, we show that by using interdisciplinary phylogenomic, metabolomic and functional approaches, the mode of action of natural biological control agents related to pathogens can be systematically established to facilitate their future exploitation.


April 21, 2020  |  

Genomic and Functional Characterization of the Endophytic Bacillus subtilis 7PJ-16 Strain, a Potential Biocontrol Agent of Mulberry Fruit Sclerotiniose.

Bacillus sp. 7PJ-16, an endophytic bacterium isolated from a healthy mulberry stem and previously identified as Bacillus tequilensis 7PJ-16, exhibits strong antifungal activity and has the capacity to promote plant growth. This strain was studied for its effectiveness as a biocontrol agent to reduce mulberry fruit sclerotiniose in the field and as a growth-promoting agent for mulberry in the greenhouse. In field studies, the cell suspension and supernatant of strain 7PJ-16 exhibited biocontrol efficacy and the lowest disease incidence was reduced down to only 0.80%. In greenhouse experiments, the cell suspension (1.0?×?106 and 1.0?×?105 CFU/mL) and the cell-free supernatant (100-fold and 1000-fold dilution) stimulated mulberry seed germination and promoted mulberry seedling growth. In addition, to accurately identify the 7PJ-16 strain and further explore the mechanisms of its antifungal and growth-promoting properties, the complete genome of this strain was sequenced and annotated. The 7PJ-16 genome is comprised of two circular plasmids and a 4,209,045-bp circular chromosome, containing 4492 protein-coding genes and 116 RNA genes. This strain was ultimately designed as Bacillus subtilis based on core genome sequence analyses using a phylogenomic approach. In this genome, we identified a series of gene clusters that function in the synthesis of non-ribosomal peptides (surfactin, fengycin, bacillibactin, and bacilysin) as well as the ribosome-dependent synthesis of tasA and bacteriocins (subtilin, subtilosin A), which are responsible for the biosynthesis of numerous antimicrobial metabolites. Additionally, several genes with function that promote plant growth, such as indole-3-acetic acid biosynthesis, the production of volatile substances, and siderophores synthesis, were also identified. The information described in this study has established a good foundation for understanding the beneficial interactions between endophytes and host plants, and facilitates the further application of B. subtilis 7PJ-16 as an agricultural biofertilizer and biocontrol agent.


April 21, 2020  |  

Genetic map-guided genome assembly reveals a virulence-governing minichromosome in the lentil anthracnose pathogen Colletotrichum lentis.

Colletotrichum lentis causes anthracnose, which is a serious disease on lentil and can account for up to 70% crop loss. Two pathogenic races, 0 and 1, have been described in the C. lentis population from lentil. To unravel the genetic control of virulence, an isolate of the virulent race 0 was sequenced at 1481-fold genomic coverage. The 56.10-Mb genome assembly consists of 50 scaffolds with N50 scaffold length of 4.89 Mb. A total of 11 436 protein-coding gene models was predicted in the genome with 237 coding candidate effectors, 43 secondary metabolite biosynthetic enzymes and 229 carbohydrate-active enzymes (CAZymes), suggesting a contraction of the virulence gene repertoire in C. lentis. Scaffolds were assigned to 10 core and two minichromosomes using a population (race 0 × race 1, n = 94 progeny isolates) sequencing-based, high-density (14 312 single nucleotide polymorphisms) genetic map. Composite interval mapping revealed a single quantitative trait locus (QTL), qClVIR-11, located on minichromosome 11, explaining 85% of the variability in virulence of the C. lentis population. The QTL covers a physical distance of 0.84 Mb with 98 genes, including seven candidate effector and two secondary metabolite genes. Taken together, the study provides genetic and physical evidence for the existence of a minichromosome controlling the C. lentis virulence on lentil. © 2018 The Authors. New Phytologist © 2018 New Phytologist Trust.


April 21, 2020  |  

Bioinformatic analysis of the complete genome sequence of Pectobacterium carotovorum subsp. brasiliense BZA12 and candidate effector screening

AbstractPectobacterium carotovorum subsp. brasiliense (Pcb) is a gram-negative, plant pathogenic bacterium of the soft rot Enterobacteriaceae (SRE) family. We present the complete genome sequence of Pcb strain BZA12, which reveals that Pcb strain BZA12 carries a single 4,924,809 bp chromosome with 51.97% GC content and comprises 4508 predicted protein-coding genes.Geneannotationofthese genes utilizedGO, KEGG,and COG databases.Incomparison withthree closely related soft-rot pathogens, strain BZA12 has 3797 gene families, among which 3107 gene families are identified as orthologous with those of both P. carotovorum subsp. carotovorum PCC21 and P. carotovorum subsp. odoriferum BCS7, as well as 36 putative Unique Gene Families. We selected five putative effectors from the BZA12 genome and transiently expressed them in Nicotiana benthamiana. Candidate effector A12GL002483 was localized in the cell nucleus and induced cell death. This study provides a foundation for a better understanding of the genomic structure and function of Pcb, particularly in the discovery of potential pathogenic factors and for the development of more effective strategies against this pathogen.


April 21, 2020  |  

Penicillium purpurogenum Produces a Set of Endoxylanases: Identification, Heterologous Expression, and Characterization of a Fourth Xylanase, XynD, a Novel Enzyme Belonging to Glycoside Hydrolase Family 10.

The fungus Penicillium purpurogenum grows on a variety of natural carbon sources and secretes a large number of enzymes which degrade the polysaccharides present in lignocellulose. In this work, the gene coding for a novel endoxylanase has been identified in the genome of the fungus. This gene (xynd) possesses four introns. The cDNA has been expressed in Pichia pastoris and characterized. The enzyme, XynD, belongs to family 10 of the glycoside hydrolases. Mature XynD has a calculated molecular weight of 40,997. It consists of 387 amino acid residues with an N-terminal catalytic module, a linker rich in ser and thr residues, and a C-terminal family 1 carbohydrate-binding module. XynD shows the highest identity (97%) to a putative endoxylanase from Penicillium subrubescens but its highest identity to a biochemically characterized xylanase (XYND from Penicillium funiculosum) is only 68%. The enzyme has a temperature optimum of 60 °C, and it is highly stable in its pH optimum range of 6.5-8.5. XynD is the fourth biochemically characterized endoxylanase from P. purpurogenum, confirming the rich potential of this fungus for lignocellulose biodegradation. XynD, due to its wide pH optimum and stability, may be a useful enzyme in biotechnological procedures related to this biodegradation process.


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  |  

A High-Quality Draft Genome Sequence of Colletotrichum gloeosporioides sensu stricto SMCG1#C, a Causal Agent of Anthracnose on Cunninghamia lanceolata in China.

Colletotrichum has a broad host range and causes major yield losses of crops. The fungus Colletotrichum gloeosporioides is associated with anthracnose on Chinese fir. In this study, we present a high-quality draft genome sequence of C. gloeosporioides sensu stricto SMCG1#C, providing a reference genomic data for further research on anthracnose of Chinese fir and other hosts.


April 21, 2020  |  

Genomic Characterization of a Newly Isolated Rhizobacteria Sphingomonas panacis Reveals Plant Growth Promoting Effect to Rice

This article reports the full genome sequence of Sphingomonas panacis DCY99T (=KCTC 42347T =JCM30806T), which is a Gram-negative rod-shaped, non-spore forming, motile bacterium isolated from rusty ginseng root in South Korea. A draft genome of S. panacis DCY99T and a single circular plasmid were generated using the PacBio platform. Antagonistic activity experiment showed S. panacis DCY99T has the plant growth promoting effect. Thus, the genome sequence of S. panacis DCY99T may contribute to biotechnological application of the genus Sphingomonas in agriculture.


April 21, 2020  |  

Blast Fungal Genomes Show Frequent Chromosomal Changes, Gene Gains and Losses, and Effector Gene Turnover.

Pyricularia is a fungal genus comprising several pathogenic species causing the blast disease in monocots. Pyricularia oryzae, the best-known species, infects rice, wheat, finger millet, and other crops. As past comparative and population genomics studies mainly focused on isolates of P. oryzae, the genomes of the other Pyricularia species have not been well explored. In this study, we obtained a chromosomal-level genome assembly of the finger millet isolate P. oryzae MZ5-1-6 and also highly contiguous assemblies of Pyricularia sp. LS, P. grisea, and P. pennisetigena. The differences in the genomic content of repetitive DNA sequences could largely explain the variation in genome size among these new genomes. Moreover, we found extensive gene gains and losses and structural changes among Pyricularia genomes, including a large interchromosomal translocation. We searched for homologs of known blast effectors across fungal taxa and found that most avirulence effectors are specific to Pyricularia, whereas many other effectors share homologs with distant fungal taxa. In particular, we discovered a novel effector family with metalloprotease activity, distinct from the well-known AVR-Pita family. We predicted 751 gene families containing putative effectors in 7 Pyricularia genomes and found that 60 of them showed differential expression in the P. oryzae MZ5-1-6 transcriptomes obtained under experimental conditions mimicking the pathogen infection process. In summary, this study increased our understanding of the structural, functional, and evolutionary genomics of the blast pathogen and identified new potential effector genes, providing useful data for developing crops with durable resistance. © The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: journals.permissions@oup.com.


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