Paracoccidioides is a fungal pathogen and the cause of paracoccidioidomycosis, a health-threatening human systemic mycosis endemic to Latin America. Infection by Paracoccidioides, a dimorphic fungus in the order Onygenales, is coupled with a thermally regulated transition from a soil-dwelling filamentous form to a yeast-like pathogenic form. To better understand the genetic basis of growth and pathogenicity in Paracoccidioides, we sequenced the genomes of two strains of Paracoccidioides brasiliensis (Pb03 and Pb18) and one strain of Paracoccidioides lutzii (Pb01). These genomes range in size from 29.1 Mb to 32.9 Mb and encode 7,610 to 8,130 genes. To enable genetic studies, we mapped 94% of the P. brasiliensis Pb18 assembly onto five chromosomes. We characterized gene family content across Onygenales and related fungi, and within Paracoccidioides we found expansions of the fungal-specific kinase family FunK1. Additionally, the Onygenales have lost many genes involved in carbohydrate metabolism and fewer genes involved in protein metabolism, resulting in a higher ratio of proteases to carbohydrate active enzymes in the Onygenales than their relatives. To determine if gene content correlated with growth on different substrates, we screened the non-pathogenic onygenale Uncinocarpus reesii, which has orthologs for 91% of Paracoccidioides metabolic genes, for growth on 190 carbon sources. U. reesii showed growth on a limited range of carbohydrates, primarily basic plant sugars and cell wall components; this suggests that Onygenales, including dimorphic fungi, can degrade cellulosic plant material in the soil. In addition, U. reesii grew on gelatin and a wide range of dipeptides and amino acids, indicating a preference for proteinaceous growth substrates over carbohydrates, which may enable these fungi to also degrade animal biomass. These capabilities for degrading plant and animal substrates suggest a duality in lifestyle that could enable pathogenic species of Onygenales to transfer from soil to animal hosts.
Paracoccidioides sp. are fungal pathogens that cause paracoccidioidomycosis in humans. They are part of a larger group of dimorphic fungi causing pulmonary infections in immunocompetent people, whereas many other fungi cause opportunistic infections. We sequenced the genomes of two strains of Paracoccidioides brasiliensis and one strain of the closely related species Paracoccidioides lutzii, and compared them to other fungal genomes. We found gene family expansions specific to Paracoccidioides, including the fungal-specific kinase family. By contrast we found that dimorphic fungi as a group have lost many genes involved in carbohydrate metabolism but retained most proteases. As the growth substrates for dimorphic fungi have not been well characterized, we tested a non-pathogenic relative, Uncinocarpus reesii, for growth on 190 carbon sources. We found that U. reesii is capable of growth on a limited set of carbohydrates, but grows more rapidly on a wide range of dipeptides and amino acids. Our analysis suggests that this genetic and phenotypic preference may underlie the ability of the dimorphic fungi to infect and grow on animal hosts.