The amphibian chytrid fungus, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), is a globally emerging pathogen that has caused widespread amphibian population declines, extirpations, and extinctions. However, Bd does not occur in all apparently suitable amphibian populations, even within regions where it is widespread, and it is often unclear why Bd occurs in some habitats but not others. In this study, we rigorously surveyed the amphibian and invertebrate biodiversity of 29 ponds in Missouri, screened resident amphibian larvae (Rana (Lithobates) sp.) for Bd infection, and characterized the aquatic physiochemical environment of each pond (temperature pH, conductivity, nitrogen, phosphorus, and chlorophyll-a). Our goal was to generate hypotheses toward answering the question, “Why does Bd not occur in all apparently suitable habitats?” Bd occurred in assayed amphibians in 11 of the 29 ponds in our study area (38% of ponds). We found no significant relationship between any single biotic or abiotic variable and presence of Bd. However, multivariate analyses (nonmetric multidimensional scaling and permutational tests of dispersion) revealed that ponds in which Bd occurred were a restricted subset of all ponds in terms of amphibian community structure, macroinvertebrate community structure, and pond physiochemistry. In other words, Bd ponds from 6 different conservation areas were more similar to each other than would be expected based on chance. The results of a structural equation model suggest that patterns in the occurrence of Bd among ponds are primarily attributable to variation in macroinvertebrate community structure. When combined with recent results showing that Bd can infect invertebrates as well as amphibians, we suggest that additional research should focus on the role played by non-amphibian biota in determining the presence, prevalence, and pathogenicity of Bd in amphibian populations.
Fungi are a large group of eukaryotes found in nearly all ecosystems. More than 250 fungal genomes have already been sequenced, greatly improving our understanding of fungal evolution, physiology, and development. However, for the Pezizomycetes, an early-diverging lineage of filamentous ascomycetes, there is so far only one genome available, namely that of the black truffle, Tuber melanosporum, a mycorrhizal species with unusual subterranean fruiting bodies. To help close the sequence gap among basal filamentous ascomycetes, and to allow conclusions about the evolution of fungal development, we sequenced the genome and assayed transcriptomes during development of Pyronema confluens, a saprobic Pezizomycete with a typical apothecium as fruiting body. With a size of 50 Mb and ∼13,400 protein-coding genes, the genome is more characteristic of higher filamentous ascomycetes than the large, repeat-rich truffle genome; however, some typical features are different in the P. confluens lineage, e.g. the genomic environment of the mating type genes that is conserved in higher filamentous ascomycetes, but only partly conserved in P. confluens. On the other hand, P. confluens has a full complement of fungal photoreceptors, and expression studies indicate that light perception might be similar to distantly related ascomycetes and, thus, represent a basic feature of filamentous ascomycetes. Analysis of spliced RNA-seq sequence reads allowed the detection of natural antisense transcripts for 281 genes. The P. confluens genome contains an unusually high number of predicted orphan genes, many of which are upregulated during sexual development, consistent with the idea of rapid evolution of sex-associated genes. Comparative transcriptomics identified the transcription factor gene pro44 that is upregulated during development in P. confluens and the Sordariomycete Sordaria macrospora. The P. confluens pro44 gene (PCON_06721) was used to complement the S. macrospora pro44 deletion mutant, showing functional conservation of this developmental regulator.
Fungi are a morphologically and physiologically diverse group of organisms with huge impacts on nearly all ecosystems. In recent years, genomes of many fungal species have been sequenced and have greatly improved our understanding of fungal biology. Ascomycetes are the largest fungal group with the highest number of sequenced genomes; however, for the Pezizales, an early-diverging lineage of filamentous ascomycetes, only one genome has been sequence to date, namely that of the black truffle. While truffles are among the most valuable edible fungi, they have a specialized life style as plant symbionts producing belowground fruiting bodies; thus it is difficult to draw conclusions about basal ascomycetes from one truffle genome alone. Therefore, we have sequenced the genome and several transcriptomes of the basal ascomycete Pyronema confluens, which has a saprobic life style typical of many ascomycetes. Comparisons with other fungal genomes showed that P. confluens has two conserved mating type genes, but that the genomic environment of the mating type genes is different from that of higher ascomycetes. We also found that a high number of orphan genes, i.e. genes without homologs in other fungi, are upregulated during sexual development. This is consistent with rapid evolution of sex-associated genes.
The basidiomycete Pleurotus ostreatus is an efficient producer of laccases, a group of enzymes appreciated for their use in multiple industrial processes. The aim of this study was to reveal the molecular basis of the superiority of laccase production by dikaryotic strains compared to their parental monokaryons.
We bred and studied a set of dikaryotic strains starting from a meiotic population of monokaryons. We then completely characterised the laccase allelic composition, the laccase gene expression and activity profiles in the dikaryotic strain N001, in two of its meiotic full-sib monokaryons and in the dikaryon formed from their mating.
Our results suggested that the dikaryotic superiority observed in laccase activity was due to non-additive transcriptional increases in lacc6 and lacc10 genes. Furthermore, the expression of these genes was divergent in glucose- vs. lignocellulose-supplemented media and was highly correlated to the detected extracellular laccase activity. Moreover, the expression profile of lacc2 in the dikaryotic strains was affected by its allelic composition, indicating a putative single locus heterozygous advantage.
The fungus Entomophthora muscae (Entomophthoromycota, Entomophthorales, Entomophthoraceae) is a widespread insect pathogen responsible for fatal epizootic events in many dipteran fly hosts. During epizootics in 2011 and 2012 in Durham, North Carolina, we observed a transition of fungal infections from one host, the plant-feeding fly Delia radicum, to a second host, the predatory fly Coenosia tigrina. Infections first appeared on Delia in the middle of March, but by the end of May, Coenosia comprised 100% of infected hosts. Multilocus sequence typing revealed that E. muscae in Durham comprises two distinct subpopulations (clades) with several haplotypes in each. Fungi from either clade are able to infect both fly species, but vary in their infection phenologies and host-specificities. Individuals of the more phylogenetically diverse clade I predominated during the beginning of the spring epizootic, infecting mostly phytophagous Delia flies. Clade II dominated in late April and May and affected mostly predatory Coenosia flies. Analysis of population structure revealed two subpopulations within E. muscae with limited gene exchange. This study provides the first evidence of recombination and population structure within the E. muscae species complex, and illustrates the complexity of insect-fungus relationships that should be considered for development of biological control methods.
Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis is the causative agent of chytridiomycosis, which is considered one of the driving forces behind the worldwide decline in populations of amphibians. As a member of the phylum Chytridiomycota, B. dendrobatidis has diverged significantly to emerge as the only pathogen of adult vertebrates. Such shifts in lifestyle are generally accompanied by various degrees of genomic modifications, yet neither its mode of pathogenicity nor any factors associated with it have ever been identified. Presented here is the identification and characterization of a unique expansion of the carbohydrate-binding module family 18 (CBM18), specific to B. dendrobatidis. CBM (chitin-binding module) expansions have been likened to the evolution of pathogenicity in a variety of fungus species, making this expanded group a prime candidate for the identification of potential pathogenicity factors. Furthermore, the CBM18 expansions are confined to three categories of genes, each having been previously implicated in host-pathogen interactions. These correlations highlight this specific domain expansion as a potential key player in the mode of pathogenicity in this unique fungus. The expansion of CBM18 in B. dendrobatidis is exceptional in its size and diversity compared to other pathogenic species of fungi, making this genomic feature unique in an evolutionary context as well as in pathogenicity.
Amphibian populations are declining worldwide at an unprecedented rate. Although various factors are thought to contribute to this phenomenon, chytridiomycosis has been identified as one of the leading causes. This deadly fungal disease is cause by Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, a chytrid fungus species unique in its pathogenicity and, furthermore, its specificity to amphibians. Despite more than two decades of research, the biology of this fungus species and its deadly interaction with amphibians had been notoriously difficult to unravel. Due to the alarming rate of worldwide spread and associated decline in amphibian populations, it is imperative to incorporate novel genomic and genetic techniques into the study of this species. In this study, we present the first reported potential pathogenicity factors in B. dendrobatidis. In silico studies such as this allow us to identify putative targets for more specific molecular analyses, furthering our hope for the control of this pathogen.
Transposable elements (TEs) are dynamic components of genomes that often vary in copy number among members of the same species. With the advent of next-generation sequencing TE insertion-site polymorphism can be examined at an unprecedented level of detail when combined with easy-to-use bioinformatics software. Here we report a new tool, RelocaTE, that rapidly identifies specific TE insertions that are either polymorphic or shared between a reference and unassembled next-generation sequencing reads. Furthermore, a novel companion tool, CharacTErizer, exploits the depth of coverage to classify genotypes of nonreference insertions as homozygous, heterozygous or, when analyzing an active TE family, as rare somatic insertion or excision events. It does this by comparing the numbers of RelocaTE aligned reads to reads that map to the same genomic position without the TE. Although RelocaTE and CharacTErizer can be used for any TE, they were developed to analyze the very active mPing element which is undergoing massive amplification in specific strains of Oryza sativa (rice). Three individuals of one of these strains, A123, were resequenced and analyzed for mPing insertion site polymorphisms. The majority of mPing insertions found (~97%) are not present in the reference, and two siblings from a self-crossed of this strain were found to share only ~90% of their insertions. Private insertions are primarily heterozygous but include both homozygous and predicted somatic insertions. The reliability of the predicted genotypes was validated by polymerase chain reaction.
transposable element; rice; genomics; bioinformatics; NGS
The transition from the vegetative mycelium to the primordium during fruiting body development is the most complex and critical developmental event in the life cycle of many basidiomycete fungi. Understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying this process has long been a goal of research on basidiomycetes. Large scale assessment of the expressed transcriptomes of these developmental stages will facilitate the generation of a more comprehensive picture of the mushroom fruiting process. In this study, we coupled 5'-Serial Analysis of Gene Expression (5'-SAGE) to high-throughput pyrosequencing from 454 Life Sciences to analyze the transcriptomes and identify up-regulated genes among vegetative mycelium (Myc) and stage 1 primordium (S1-Pri) of Coprinopsis cinerea during fruiting body development.
We evaluated the expression of >3,000 genes in the two respective growth stages and discovered that almost one-third of these genes were preferentially expressed in either stage. This identified a significant turnover of the transcriptome during the course of fruiting body development. Additionally, we annotated more than 79,000 transcription start sites (TSSs) based on the transcriptomes of the mycelium and stage 1 primoridum stages. Patterns of enrichment based on gene annotations from the GO and KEGG databases indicated that various structural and functional protein families were uniquely employed in either stage and that during primordial growth, cellular metabolism is highly up-regulated. Various signaling pathways such as the cAMP-PKA, MAPK and TOR pathways were also identified as up-regulated, consistent with the model that sensing of nutrient levels and the environment are important in this developmental transition. More than 100 up-regulated genes were also found to be unique to mushroom forming basidiomycetes, highlighting the novelty of fruiting body development in the fungal kingdom.
We implicated a wealth of new candidate genes important to early stages of mushroom fruiting development, though their precise molecular functions and biological roles are not yet fully known. This study serves to advance our understanding of the molecular mechanisms of fruiting body development in the model mushroom C. cinerea.
Coprinopsis cinerea; SAGE; Transcriptome; Microarray; Transcription start site; Fruiting body; Mycelium; Primordium
The broadly accepted pattern of rapid evolution of reproductive genes is primarily based on studies of animal systems, although several examples of rapidly evolving genes involved in reproduction are found in diverse additional taxa. In fungi, genes involved in mate recognition have been found to evolve rapidly. However, the examples are too few to draw conclusions on a genome scale.
In this study, we performed microarray hybridizations between RNA from sexual and vegetative tissues of two strains of the heterothallic (self-sterile) filamentous ascomycete Neurospora intermedia, to identify a set of sex-associated genes in this species. We aligned Expressed Sequence Tags (ESTs) from sexual and vegetative tissue of N. intermedia to orthologs from three closely related species: N. crassa, N. discreta and N. tetrasperma. The resulting four-species alignments provided a dataset for molecular evolutionary analyses. Our results confirm a general pattern of rapid evolution of fungal sex-associated genes, compared to control genes with constitutive expression or a high relative expression during vegetative growth. Among the rapidly evolving sex-associated genes, we identified candidates that could be of importance for mating or fruiting-body development. Analyses of five of these candidate genes from additional species of heterothallic Neurospora revealed that three of them evolve under positive selection.
Taken together, our study represents a novel finding of a genome-wide pattern of rapid evolution of sex-associated genes in the fungal kingdom, and provides a list of candidate genes important for reproductive isolation in Neurospora.
Neurospora; Reproductive genes; dN/dS; Speciation; Microarray
The worldwide-distributed aquatic fungus Articulospora tetracladia Ingold is a dominant sporulating species in streams of the Northwest Iberian Peninsula. To elucidate the genetic diversity of A. tetracladia, we analyzed isolates collected from various types of plant litter or foam in streams from North and Central Portugal and North Spain, between 2000 and 2010. Genetic diversity of these fungal populations was assessed by denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) fingerprints and by using ITS1-5.8S-ITS2 barcodes. Moreover, ITS1-5.8S-ITS2 barcodes of A. tetracladia reported in other parts of the world (Central Europe, United Kingdom, Canada, Japan and Malaysia) were retrieved from the National Center for Biotechnology (NCBI) and the National Institute of Technology and Evaluation Biological Resource Center (NBRC) to probe into genetic diversity of A. tetracladia. PCR-DGGE of ITS2 region of 50 Iberian fungal isolates distinguished eight operational taxonomic units (OTUs), which were similar to those obtained from neighboring trees based on ITS2 gene sequences. On the other hand, ITS1-5.8S-ITS2 barcodes of 68 fungal isolates yielded nine OTUs, but five fungal isolates were not assigned to any of these OTUs. Molecular diversity was highest for OTU-8, which included only European isolates. Two haplotypes were observed within OTU-8 and OTU-9, while only one haplotype was found within each of the remaining OTUs. Malaysia did not share haplotypes with other countries. Overall results indicate that, apart from the Malaysian genotypes, A. tetracladia genotypes were geographically widespread irrespective of sampling time, sites or substrates. Furthermore, PCR-DGGE appeared to be a rapid tool for assessing intraspecific diversity of aquatic hyphomycetes.
The amphibian pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) has been implicated in amphibian declines around the globe. Although it has been found in most countries in Central America, its presence has never been assessed in Belize. We set out to determine the range, prevalence, and diversity of Bd using quantitative PCR (qPCR) and sequencing of a portion of the 5.8 s and ITS1-2 regions. Swabs were collected from 524 amphibians of at least 26 species in the protected areas of the Maya Mountains of Belize. We sequenced a subset of 72 samples that had tested positive for Bd by qPCR at least once; 30 samples were verified as Bd. Eight unique Bd haplotypes were identified in the Maya Mountains, five of which were previously undescribed. We identified unique ecological niches for the two most broadly distributed haplotypes. Combined with data showing differing virulence shown in different strains in other studies, the 5.8 s - ITS1-2 region diversity found in this study suggests that there may be substantial differences among populations or haplotypes. Future work should focus on whether specific haplotypes for other genomic regions and possibly pathogenicity can be associated with haplotypes at this locus, as well as the integration of molecular tools with other ecological tools to elucidate the ecology and pathogenicity of Bd.
Fungal genomes range in size from 2.3 Mb for the microsporidian Encephalitozoon intestinalis up to 8000 Mb for Entomophaga aulicae, with a mean genome size of 37 Mb. Basidiobolus, a common inhabitant of vertebrate guts, is distantly related to all other fungi, and is unique in possessing both EF-1α and EFL genes. Using DNA sequencing and a quantitative PCR approach, we estimated a haploid genome size for Basidiobolus at 350 Mb. However, based on allelic variation, the nuclear genome is at least diploid, leading us to believe that the final genome size is at least 700 Mb. We also found that EFL was in three times the copy number of its putatively functionally overlapping paralog EF-1α. This suggests that gene or genome duplication may be an important feature of B. ranarum evolution, and also suggests that B. ranarum may have mechanisms in place that favor the preservation of functionally overlapping genes.
Transposable elements are mobile DNA sequences that integrate into host genomes using diverse mechanisms with varying degrees of target site specificity. While the target site preferences of some engineered transposable elements are well studied, the natural target preferences of most transposable elements are poorly characterized. Using population genomic resequencing data from 166 strains of Drosophila melanogaster, we identified over 8,000 new insertion sites not present in the reference genome sequence that we used to decode the natural target preferences of 22 families of transposable element in this species. We found that terminal inverted repeat transposon and long terminal repeat retrotransposon families present clade-specific target site duplications and target site sequence motifs. Additionally, we found that the sequence motifs at transposable element target sites are always palindromes that extend beyond the target site duplication. Our results demonstrate the utility of population genomics data for high-throughput inference of transposable element targeting preferences in the wild and establish general rules for terminal inverted repeat transposon and long terminal repeat retrotransposon target site selection in eukaryotic genomes.
The Sclerotiniaceae (Ascomycotina, Leotiomycetes) is a relatively recently evolved lineage of necrotrophic host generalists, and necrotrophic or biotrophic host specialists, some latent or symptomless. We hypothesized that they inherited a basic toolbox of genes for plant symbiosis from their common ancestor. Maintenance and evolutionary diversification of symbiosis could require selection on toolbox genes or on timing and magnitude of gene expression. The genes studied were chosen because their products have been previously investigated as pathogenicity factors in the Sclerotiniaceae. They encode proteins associated with cell wall degradation: acid protease 1 (acp1), aspartyl protease (asps), and polygalacturonases (pg1, pg3, pg5, pg6), and the oxalic acid (OA) pathway: a zinc finger transcription factor (pac1), and oxaloacetate acetylhydrolase (oah), catalyst in OA production, essential for full symptom production in Sclerotinia sclerotiorum. Site-specific likelihood analyses provided evidence for purifying selection in all 8 pathogenicity-related genes. Consistent with an evolutionary arms race model, positive selection was detected in 5 of 8 genes. Only generalists produced large, proliferating disease lesions on excised Arabidopsis thaliana leaves and oxalic acid by 72 hours in vitro. In planta expression of oah was 10–300 times greater among the necrotrophic host generalists than necrotrophic and biotrophic host specialists; pac1 was not differentially expressed. Ability to amplify 6/8 pathogenicity related genes and produce oxalic acid in all genera are consistent with the common toolbox hypothesis for this gene sample. That our data did not distinguish biotrophs from necrotrophs is consistent with 1) a common toolbox based on necrotrophy and 2) the most conservative interpretation of the 3-locus housekeeping gene phylogeny – a baseline of necrotrophy from which forms of biotrophy emerged at least twice. Early oah overexpression likely expands the host range of necrotrophic generalists in the Sclerotiniaceae, while specialists and biotrophs deploy oah, or other as-yet-unknown toolbox genes, differently.
FungiDB (http://FungiDB.org) is a functional genomic resource for pan-fungal genomes that was developed in partnership with the Eukaryotic Pathogen Bioinformatic resource center (http://EuPathDB.org). FungiDB uses the same infrastructure and user interface as EuPathDB, which allows for sophisticated and integrated searches to be performed using an intuitive graphical system. The current release of FungiDB contains genome sequence and annotation from 18 species spanning several fungal classes, including the Ascomycota classes, Eurotiomycetes, Sordariomycetes, Saccharomycetes and the Basidiomycota orders, Pucciniomycetes and Tremellomycetes, and the basal ‘Zygomycete’ lineage Mucormycotina. Additionally, FungiDB contains cell cycle microarray data, hyphal growth RNA-sequence data and yeast two hybrid interaction data. The underlying genomic sequence and annotation combined with functional data, additional data from the FungiDB standard analysis pipeline and the ability to leverage orthology provides a powerful resource for in silico experimentation.
Understanding the molecular mechanisms of pathogen emergence is central to mitigating the impacts of novel infectious disease agents. The chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) is an emerging pathogen of amphibians that has been implicated in amphibian declines worldwide. Bd is the only member of its clade known to attack vertebrates. However, little is known about the molecular determinants of - or evolutionary transition to - pathogenicity in Bd. Here we sequence the genome of Bd's closest known relative - a non-pathogenic chytrid Homolaphlyctis polyrhiza (Hp). We first describe the genome of Hp, which is comparable to other chytrid genomes in size and number of predicted proteins. We then compare the genomes of Hp, Bd, and 19 additional fungal genomes to identify unique or recent evolutionary elements in the Bd genome. We identified 1,974 Bd-specific genes, a gene set that is enriched for protease, lipase, and microbial effector Gene Ontology terms. We describe significant lineage-specific expansions in three Bd protease families (metallo-, serine-type, and aspartyl proteases). We show that these protease gene family expansions occurred after the divergence of Bd and Hp from their common ancestor and thus are localized to the Bd branch. Finally, we demonstrate that the timing of the protease gene family expansions predates the emergence of Bd as a globally important amphibian pathogen.
The chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) is an emerging pathogen that has been implicated in decimating amphibian populations around the world. Bd is the only member of an ancient group of fungi (called the Chytridiomycota) that is known to attack vertebrates. The question of how an amphibian-killing fungus evolved from non-pathogenic ancestors is vital to protecting the world's remaining amphibians from Bd. We sequenced the genome of Bd's closest known relative - a non-pathogenic chytrid named Homolaphlyctis polyrhiza (Hp). We compared the genomes of Bd, Hp and 18 additional fungi to identify what makes Bd unique. We identified a large number of Bd-specific genes, a gene set that contains a number of possible pathogenicity factors. In particular, we describe a large number of protease genes in the Bd genome and show that these genes were duplicated after the divergence of Bd and Hp from their common ancestor. Studying Bd's pathogenesis in an evolutionary context provides new evidence for the role of protease genes in Bd's ability to kill amphibians.
A large region of suppressed recombination surrounds the sex-determining locus of the self-fertile fungus Neurospora tetrasperma. This region encompasses nearly one-fifth of the N. tetrasperma genome and suppression of recombination is necessary for self-fertility. The similarity of the N. tetrasperma mating chromosome to plant and animal sex chromosomes and its recent origin (<5 MYA), combined with a long history of genetic and cytological research, make this fungus an ideal model for studying the evolutionary consequences of suppressed recombination. Here we compare genome sequences from two N. tetrasperma strains of opposite mating type to determine whether structural rearrangements are associated with the nonrecombining region and to examine the effect of suppressed recombination for the evolution of the genes within it. We find a series of three inversions encompassing the majority of the region of suppressed recombination and provide evidence for two different types of rearrangement mechanisms: the recently proposed mechanism of inversion via staggered single-strand breaks as well as ectopic recombination between transposable elements. In addition, we show that the N. tetrasperma mat a mating-type region appears to be accumulating deleterious substitutions at a faster rate than the other mating type (mat A) and thus may be in the early stages of degeneration.
Genome Browsers are software that allow the user to view genome annotations in the context of a reference sequence, such as a chromosome, contig, scaffold, etc. The Generic Genome Browser (GBrowse) is an open source genome browser package developed as part of the Generic Model Database Project (see Unit 9.9; Stein et at., 2002). The increasing number of sequenced genomes has to a corresponding growth in the field of comparative genomics, which requires methods to view and compare multiple genomes. Using the same software framework as GBrowse, the Generic Synteny Browser (GBrowse_syn) allows the comparison of co-linear regions of multiple genomes using the familiar GBrowse-style web page. Like GBrowse, GBrowse_syn can be configured to display any organism and is currently the synteny browser used for model organisms such as C. elegans (WormBase; www.wormbase.org; see Unit 1.8) and Arabidopsis (TAIR; www.arabidopsis.org; see Unit 1.11). GBrowse_syn is part of the GBrowse software package and can be downloaded from the web and run on any unix-like operating system, such as Linux, Solaris, Mac OS X etc. GBrowse_syn is still under active development. This unit will cover installation and configuration as part of the current stable version of GBrowse (v1.71).
Agrobacterium tumefaciens has long been known to transform plant tissue in nature as part of its infection process. This natural mechanism has been utilised over the last few decades in laboratories world wide to genetically manipulate many species of plants. More recently this technology has been successfully applied to non-plant organisms in the laboratory, including fungi, where the plant wound hormone acetosyringone, an inducer of transformation, is supplied exogenously. In the natural environment it is possible that Agrobacterium and fungi may encounter each other at plant wound sites, where acetosyringone would be present, raising the possibility of natural gene transfer from bacterium to fungus.
We investigate this hypothesis through the development of experiments designed to replicate such a situation at a plant wound site. A. tumefaciens harbouring the plasmid pCAMDsRed was co-cultivated with the common plant pathogenic fungus Verticillium albo-atrum on a range of wounded plant tissues. Fungal transformants were obtained from co-cultivation on a range of plant tissue types, demonstrating that plant tissue provides sufficient vir gene inducers to allow A. tumefaciens to transform fungi in planta.
This work raises interesting questions about whether A. tumefaciens may be able to transform organisms other than plants in nature, or indeed should be considered during GM risk assessments, with further investigations required to determine whether this phenomenon has already occurred in nature.
Coprinopsis cinerea (also known as Coprinus cinereus) is a multicellular basidiomycete mushroom particularly suited to the study of meiosis due to its synchronous meiotic development and prolonged prophase. We examined the 15-hour meiotic transcriptional program of C. cinerea, encompassing time points prior to haploid nuclear fusion though tetrad formation, using a 70-mer oligonucleotide microarray. As with other organisms, a large proportion (∼20%) of genes are differentially regulated during this developmental process, with successive waves of transcription apparent in nine transcriptional clusters, including one enriched for meiotic functions. C. cinerea and the fungi Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Schizosaccharomyces pombe diverged ∼500–900 million years ago, permitting a comparison of transcriptional programs across a broad evolutionary time scale. Previous studies of S. cerevisiae and S. pombe compared genes that were induced upon entry into meiosis; inclusion of C. cinerea data indicates that meiotic genes are more conserved in their patterns of induction across species than genes not known to be meiotic. In addition, we found that meiotic genes are significantly more conserved in their transcript profiles than genes not known to be meiotic, which indicates a remarkable conservation of the meiotic process across evolutionarily distant organisms. Overall, meiotic function genes are more conserved in both induction and transcript profile than genes not known to be meiotic. However, of 50 meiotic function genes that were co-induced in all three species, 41 transcript profiles were well-correlated in at least two of the three species, but only a single gene (rad50) exhibited coordinated induction and well-correlated transcript profiles in all three species, indicating that co-induction does not necessarily predict correlated expression or vice versa. Differences may reflect differences in meiotic mechanisms or new roles for paralogs. Similarities in induction, transcript profiles, or both, should contribute to gene discovery for orthologs without currently characterized meiotic roles.
Meiosis is the part of the sexual reproduction process in which the number of chromosomes in an organism is halved. This occurs in most plants, animals, and fungi; and many of the proteins involved are the same in the different organisms that have been studied. We wanted to ask whether the genes involved in the meiotic process are turned on and off at the same stages of meiosis in organisms that separated a long time ago. To do this we looked at three fungal species, Saccharomyces cerevisiae (baker's yeast), Schizosaccharomyces pombe (a very distantly related fungus of the same phylum), and Coprinopsis cinerea (a mushroom-forming fungus of a different phylum), which had a common ancestor 500–900 million years ago (in comparison, rats and mice separated ∼23 million years ago). We lined up meiotic stages and found that gene expression during the meiotic process was more conserved for meiotic genes than for non-meiotic genes, indicating ancient conservation of the meiotic process.
Protein phosphorylation is a generic way to regulate signal transduction pathways in all kingdoms of life. In many organisms, it is achieved by the large family of Ser/Thr/Tyr protein kinases which are traditionally classified into groups and subfamilies on the basis of the amino acid sequence of their catalytic domains. Many protein kinases are multi-domain in nature but the diversity of the accessory domains and their organization are usually not taken into account while classifying kinases into groups or subfamilies.
Here, we present an approach which considers amino acid sequences of complete gene products, in order to suggest refinements in sets of pre-classified sequences. The strategy is based on alignment-free similarity scores and iterative Area Under the Curve (AUC) computation. Similarity scores are computed by detecting common patterns between two sequences and scoring them using a substitution matrix, with a consistent normalization scheme. This allows us to handle full-length sequences, and implicitly takes into account domain diversity and domain shuffling. We quantitatively validate our approach on a subset of 212 human protein kinases. We then employ it on the complete repertoire of human protein kinases and suggest few qualitative refinements in the subfamily assignment stored in the KinG database, which is based on catalytic domains only. Based on our new measure, we delineate 37 cases of potential hybrid kinases: sequences for which classical classification based entirely on catalytic domains is inconsistent with the full-length similarity scores computed here, which implicitly consider multi-domain nature and regions outside the catalytic kinase domain. We also provide some examples of hybrid kinases of the protozoan parasite Entamoeba histolytica.
The implicit consideration of multi-domain architectures is a valuable inclusion to complement other classification schemes. The proposed algorithm may also be employed to classify other families of enzymes with multi-domain architecture.
Physiologically stressful environments tend to host depauperate and specialized biological communities. Serpentine soils exemplify this phenomenon by imposing well-known constraints on plants; however, their effect on other organisms is still poorly understood.
We used a combination of field and molecular approaches to test the hypothesis that serpentine fungal communities are species-poor and specialized. We conducted surveys of ectomycorrhizal fungal diversity from adjacent serpentine and non-serpentine sites, described fungal communities using nrDNA Internal Transcribed Spacer (ITS) fragment and sequence analyses, and compared their phylogenetic community structure. Although we detected low fungal overlap across the two habitats, we found serpentine soils to support rich fungal communities that include representatives from all major fungal lineages. We failed to detect the phylogenetic signature of endemic clades that would result from specialization and adaptive radiation within this habitat.
Our results indicate that serpentine soils do not constitute an extreme environment for ectomycorrhizal fungi, and raise important questions about the role of symbioses in edaphic tolerance and the maintenance of biodiversity.
Alternatively-spliced (AS) forms can vary protein function, intracellular localization and post-translational modifications. AS coupled with mRNA nonsense-mediated decay (NMD) can also control the transcript abundance. Here, we have investigated the genome-scale conservation of alternatively-spliced NMD candidates (AS-NMD candidates), in mammals.
We mapped >12 million cDNA/EST library transcripts, comprising pooled data from both older and next-generation sequencing techniques, against genomic sequences to annotate AS-NMD candidates generated by in-frame premature termination codons (PTCs), in the human, mouse, rat and cow genomes. In these genomes, we found populations of genes that harbour AS-NMD candidates, varying in number from ∼149 to 2,051 genes. We discovered that a highly-significant proportion (27%–35%) of AS-NMD candidate genes in mouse, rat and cow, also have human orthologs targeted for NMD. Intron retention was the most abundant type of AS-NMD, ranging from 43% to 67% of genes harbouring an AS-NMD candidate. Groupings of AS-NMD candidate genes either with or without intron retentions also have highly significant AS-NMD conservation, indicating that the trend is not due primarily to conservation of intron retentions. As a subset, the AS-NMD intron retentions are distinguished from non-retained introns by higher GC content, and codon usage similar to the usage in protein-coding sequences. This indicates that most of these alternatively spliced sequences have coded for proteins in the recent evolutionary past. In general, the AS-NMD candidate genes showed a similar pattern of Gene Ontology functional category enrichments in all four species. Genes linked to nucleic-acid interaction and apoptosis, and involved in pathways linked with cancer, were the most common. Finally, we mapped the AS-NMD candidates to mass spectrometry-derived proteomics data, and gathered evidence of truncated polypeptides for at least 10% of all human AS-NMD candidate transcripts.
In summary, our analysis provides strong statistical evidence for conservation of functional AS-NMD candidature across Mammalia for a large subset of genes. However, because codon usage of AS-NMD intron retentions is similar to the usage in exons, it is difficult to de-couple conservation of AS-NMD-based regulation from conservation for protein-coding ability, for intron retentions.
The transfer of scientific data has emerged as a significant challenge, as datasets continue to grow in size and demand for open access sharing increases. Current methods for file transfer do not scale well for large files and can cause long transfer times. In this study we present BioTorrents, a website that allows open access sharing of scientific data and uses the popular BitTorrent peer-to-peer file sharing technology. BioTorrents allows files to be transferred rapidly due to the sharing of bandwidth across multiple institutions and provides more reliable file transfers due to the built-in error checking of the file sharing technology. BioTorrents contains multiple features, including keyword searching, category browsing, RSS feeds, torrent comments, and a discussion forum. BioTorrents is available at http://www.biotorrents.net.
Filamentous fungi are of great importance in ecology, agriculture, medicine, and biotechnology. Thus, it is not surprising that genomes for more than 100 filamentous fungi have been sequenced, most of them by Sanger sequencing. While next-generation sequencing techniques have revolutionized genome resequencing, e.g. for strain comparisons, genetic mapping, or transcriptome and ChIP analyses, de novo assembly of eukaryotic genomes still presents significant hurdles, because of their large size and stretches of repetitive sequences. Filamentous fungi contain few repetitive regions in their 30–90 Mb genomes and thus are suitable candidates to test de novo genome assembly from short sequence reads. Here, we present a high-quality draft sequence of the Sordaria macrospora genome that was obtained by a combination of Illumina/Solexa and Roche/454 sequencing. Paired-end Solexa sequencing of genomic DNA to 85-fold coverage and an additional 10-fold coverage by single-end 454 sequencing resulted in ∼4 Gb of DNA sequence. Reads were assembled to a 40 Mb draft version (N50 of 117 kb) with the Velvet assembler. Comparative analysis with Neurospora genomes increased the N50 to 498 kb. The S. macrospora genome contains even fewer repeat regions than its closest sequenced relative, Neurospora crassa. Comparison with genomes of other fungi showed that S. macrospora, a model organism for morphogenesis and meiosis, harbors duplications of several genes involved in self/nonself-recognition. Furthermore, S. macrospora contains more polyketide biosynthesis genes than N. crassa. Phylogenetic analyses suggest that some of these genes may have been acquired by horizontal gene transfer from a distantly related ascomycete group. Our study shows that, for typical filamentous fungi, de novo assembly of genomes from short sequence reads alone is feasible, that a mixture of Solexa and 454 sequencing substantially improves the assembly, and that the resulting data can be used for comparative studies to address basic questions of fungal biology.
Fungi have immense impacts on ecosystems and affect many aspects of society. They are used as convenient organisms for fundamental research because their typically haploid genetics enable straightforward phenotyping of mutations and because most fungal cells can differentiate the entire organism. Fungi have compact genomes with few repetitive sequences, and their genomes should be much easier to assemble from short sequence reads than genomes of mammals or higher plants. To test this idea, we used Solexa and 454 sequencing to generate ∼4 Gb of raw sequence data from the filamentous fungus Sordaria macrospora. De novo assembly yielded 5,097 contigs. This assembly was improved by comparison with reference genomes of three closely related Neurospora species, resulting in placement of ∼40 Mb of genome sequence in 152 scaffolds. From comparisons of predicted proteins we conclude that S. macrospora carries a conserved set of genes for signaling and development, which should encourage its further use as a model organism for morphogenesis and meiosis. We demonstrate that de novo assembly of fungal genomes from short reads is cheap and efficient. Species that are not traditionally considered “model organisms” but await genome sequencing for comparative and functional genomics analyses are at last amenable to in-depth genome-wide analyses.