A Small Horizontally Transferred Gene Cluster Contributes to the Sporulation of Alternaria alternata.
ABSTRACT: Horizontal gene transfer (HGT) has been identified as an important source of genomic innovation in fungi. However, how HGT drove the evolution of Alternaria alternata, a necrotrophic fungus which can be ubiquitously isolated from soil and various plants and decaying plant materials is largely known. In this study, we identified 12 protein-encoding genes that are likely acquired from lineages outside Pezizomycotina. Phylogenetic trees and approximately unbiased comparative topology tests strongly supported the evolutionary origin of these genes. According to their predicted functions, these HGT candidates are involved in nitrogen and carbohydrate metabolism. Especially, five genes of them were likely transferred as a physically linked cluster from Tremellales (Basidiomycota). Functionally knocking out the five-gene cluster in an A. alternata isolate causing citrus brown spot resulted in an 80% decrease in asexual spore production in the deletion mutant. We further knocked out each of these five genes in this cluster and the resultant single-gene deletion mutants exhibited a various degree of reduction in spore production. Except for conidiation, functions of these genes associated with vegetative growth, stress tolerance, and virulence are very limited. Our results provide new evidence that HGT has played important roles over the course of the evolution of filamentous fungi.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Horizontal gene transfer (HGT) is the stable transmission of genetic material between organisms by means other than vertical inheritance. HGT has an important role in the evolution of prokaryotes but is relatively rare in eukaryotes. HGT has been shown to contribute to virulence in eukaryotic pathogens. We studied the importance of HGT in plant pathogenic fungi by identifying horizontally transferred genes in the genomes of three members of the genus Colletotrichum. RESULTS: We identified eleven HGT events from bacteria into members of the genus Colletotrichum or their ancestors. The HGT events include genes involved in amino acid, lipid and sugar metabolism as well as lytic enzymes. Additionally, the putative minimal dates of transference were calculated using a time calibrated phylogenetic tree. This analysis reveals a constant flux of genes from bacteria to fungi throughout the evolution of subphylum Pezizomycotina. CONCLUSIONS: Genes that are typically transferred by HGT are those that are constantly subject to gene duplication and gene loss. The functions of some of these genes suggest roles in niche adaptation and virulence. We found no evidence of a burst of HGT events coinciding with major geological events. In contrast, HGT appears to be a constant, albeit rare phenomenon in the Pezizomycotina, occurring at a steady rate during their evolution.
Project description:Iron is one of the most abundant elements on earth and essential for life. However, Fe<sup>3+</sup> ions are rather insoluble and microorganisms such as fungi may use siderophores as strong chelators for uptake. In addition, free cytoplasmic iron is rather toxic and intracellular siderophores are used to control the toxicity. Siderophores are also important for iron storage. We studied two siderophore systems in the plant necrotrophic fungus Alternaria alternata and show that the non-ribosomal peptide synthase, Nps2, is required for the biosynthesis of intracellular ferricrocin, whereas Nps6 is needed for the formation of extracellular coprogen and coprogen B. Whereas nps2 was dispensable for growth on iron-depleted medium, nps6 was essential under those conditions. nps2 deletion caused an increase in spore formation and reduced pathogenicity on tomato. Our results suggest that A. alternata employs an external and an internal siderophore system to adapt to low iron conditions.
Project description:Black spot caused by Alternaria alternata is one of the important diseases of pear fruit during storage. Isothiocyanates are known as being strong antifungal compounds in vitro against different fungi. The aim of this study was to assess the antifungal effects of the volatile compound 2-phenylethyl isothiocyanate (2-PEITC) against A. alternata in vitro and in pear fruit, and to explore the underlying inhibitory mechanisms. The in vitro results showed that 2-PEITC significantly inhibited spore germination and mycelial growth of A. alternata-the inhibitory effects showed a dose-dependent pattern and the minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) was 1.22 mM. The development of black spot rot on the pear fruit inoculated with A. alternata was also significantly decreased by 2-PEITC fumigation. At 1.22 mM concentration, the lesion diameter was only 39% of that in the control fruit at 7 days after inoculation. Further results of the leakage of electrolyte, increase of intracellular OD260, and propidium iodide (PI) staining proved that 2-PEITC broke cell membrane permeability of A. alternata. Moreover, 2-PEITC treatment significantly decreased alternariol (AOH), alternariolmonomethyl ether (AME), altenuene (ALT), and tentoxin (TEN) contents of A. alternata. Taken together, these data suggest that the mechanisms underlying the antifungal effect of 2-PEITC against A. alternata might be via reduction in toxin content and breakdown of cell membrane integrity.
Project description:Fungi contain a remarkable range of metabolic pathways, sometimes encoded by gene clusters, enabling them to digest most organic matter and synthesize an array of potent small molecules. Although metabolism is fundamental to the fungal lifestyle, we still know little about how major evolutionary processes, such as gene duplication (GD) and horizontal gene transfer (HGT), have interacted with clustered and non-clustered fungal metabolic pathways to give rise to this metabolic versatility. We examined the synteny and evolutionary history of 247,202 fungal genes encoding enzymes that catalyze 875 distinct metabolic reactions from 130 pathways in 208 diverse genomes. We found that gene clustering varied greatly with respect to metabolic category and lineage; for example, clustered genes in Saccharomycotina yeasts were overrepresented in nucleotide metabolism, whereas clustered genes in Pezizomycotina were more common in lipid and amino acid metabolism. The effects of both GD and HGT were more pronounced in clustered genes than in their non-clustered counterparts and were differentially distributed across fungal lineages; specifically, GD, which was an order of magnitude more abundant than HGT, was most frequently observed in Agaricomycetes, whereas HGT was much more prevalent in Pezizomycotina. The effect of HGT in some Pezizomycotina was particularly strong; for example, we identified 111 HGT events associated with the 15 Aspergillus genomes, which sharply contrasts with the 60 HGT events detected for the 48 genomes from the entire Saccharomycotina subphylum. Finally, the impact of GD within a metabolic category was typically consistent across all fungal lineages, whereas the impact of HGT was variable. These results indicate that GD is the dominant process underlying fungal metabolic diversity, whereas HGT is episodic and acts in a category- or lineage-specific manner. Both processes have a greater impact on clustered genes, suggesting that metabolic gene clusters represent hotspots for the generation of fungal metabolic diversity.
Project description:Alternaria alternata (Fries) Keissler is a lethal pear pathogen that causes leaf black spot disease of pear in Southern China. Heat-stable activity factor (HSAF) is a polycyclic tetramate macrolactam (PTM) produced by Lysobacter enzymogenes and many other microbes with a broad-spectrum antifungal activity against many filamentous fungi. In this study, we evaluated the antifungal effect of HSAF against A. alternata and proposed its antifungal mechanism in A. alternata. We report that HSAF inhibited the mycelial growth of A. alternata in a dose-dependent manner. Transcriptomics analysis revealed that HSAF treatment resulted in an expression alteration of a wide range of genes, with 3729 genes being up-regulated, and 3640 genes being down-regulated. Furthermore, we observed that HSAF treatment disrupted multiple signaling networks and essential cellular metabolisms in A. alternata, including the AMPK signaling pathway, sphingolipid metabolism and signaling pathway, carbon metabolism and the TCA (tricarboxylic acid) cycle, cell cycle, nitrogen metabolism, cell wall synthesis and a key hub protein phosphatase 2A (PP2A). These observations suggest that HSAF breaches metabolism networks and ultimately induces increased thickness of the cell wall and apoptosis in A. alternata. The improved understanding of the antifungal mechanism of HSAF against filamentous fungi will aid in the future identification of the direct interaction target of HSAF and development of HSAF as a novel bio-fungicide.
Project description:Nonribosomal peptides (NRPs) and polyketides (PKs) are ecologically important secondary metabolites produced by bacteria and fungi using multidomain enzymes called nonribosomal peptide synthetases (NRPSs) and polyketide synthases (PKSs), respectively. Previous phylogenetic analyses of fungal NRPSs and PKSs have suggested that a few of these genes were acquired by fungi via horizontal gene transfer (HGT) from bacteria, including a hybrid NPS/PKS found in Cochliobolus heterostrophus (Dothideomycetes, Ascomycota). Here, we identify this hybrid gene in fungi representing two additional classes of Ascomycota (Aspergillus spp., Microsporum canis, Arthroderma spp., and Trichophyton spp., Eurotiomycetes; Chaetomium spp. and Metarhizium spp., Sordariomycetes) and use phylogenetic analyses of the most highly conserved domains from NRPSs (adenylation (A) domain) and PKSs (ketoacyl synthase (KS) domain) to examine the hypothesis that the hybrid NPS7/PKS24 was acquired by fungi from bacteria via HGT relatively early in the evolution of the Pezizomycotina. Our results reveal a unique ancestry of the A domain and KS domain in the hybrid gene relative to known fungal NRPSs and PKSs, provide strong evidence for HGT of the hybrid gene from a putative bacterial donor in the Burkholderiales, and suggest the HGT event occurred early in the evolution of the filamentous Ascomycota.
Project description:Alternaria alternata is one of the most studied fungi to date because of its impact on human life - from plant pathogenicity to allergenicity. However, its sesquiterpene emissions have not been systematically explored. Alternaria regularly co-occurs with Fusarium fungi, which are common plant pathogens, on withering plants. We analyzed the diversity and determined the absolute quantities of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the headspace above mycelial cultures of A. alternata and Fusarium oxysporum under different conditions (nutrient rich and poor, single cultures and co-cultivation) and at different mycelial ages. Using stir bar sorptive extraction and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry, we observed A. alternata to strongly emit sesquiterpenes, particularly during the early growth stages, while emissions from F. oxysporum consistently remained comparatively low. The emission profile characterizing A. alternata comprised over 20 sesquiterpenes with few effects from nutrient quality and age on the overall emission profile. Co-cultivation with F. oxysporum resulted in reduced amounts of VOCs emitted from A. alternata although its profile remained similar. Both fungi showed distinct emission profiles, rendering them suitable biomarkers for growth-detection of their phylotype in ambient air. The study highlights the importance of thorough and quantitative evaluations of fungal emissions of volatile infochemicals such as sesquiterpenes.
Project description:The genus Alternaria is a group of infectious/contagious pathogenic fungi that not only invade a wide range of crops but also induce severe allergic reactions in a part of the human population. In this study, two strains Alternaria longipes cx1 and Alternaria alternata cx2 were isolated from different brown spot lesions on infected tobacco leaves. Their complete genomes were sequenced, de novo assembled, and comparatively analyzed. Phylogenetic analysis revealed that A. longipes cx1 and A. alternata cx2 diverged 3.3 million years ago, indicating a recent event of speciation. Seventeen non-ribosomal peptide synthetase (NRPS) genes and 13 polyketide synthase (PKS) genes in A. longipes cx1 and 13 NRPS genes and 12 PKS genes in A. alternata cx2 were identified in these two strains. Some of these genes were predicted to participate in the synthesis of non-host specific toxins (non-HSTs), such as tenuazonic acid (TeA), alternariol (AOH) and alternariol monomethyl ether (AME). By comparative genome analysis, we uncovered that A. longipes cx1 had more genes putatively involved in pathogen-plant interaction, more carbohydrate-degrading enzymes and more secreted proteins than A. alternata cx2. In summary, our results demonstrate the genomic distinction between A. longipes cx1 and A. altenata cx2. They will not only improve the understanding of the phylogenetic relationship among genus Alternaria, but more importantly provide valuable genomic resources for the investigation of plant-pathogen interaction.
Project description:Endophytic strains were isolated from different parts of a healthy "Dongzao" jujube (Ziziphus jujuba Mill. 'Dongzao') to find biocontrol agents against jujube shrunken-fruit disease caused by Alternaria alternata. The strains were screened using A. alternata strain CN193 as the target pathogen. The nutrient competition for all isolates was studied using the dual culture, and their inhibitive capability was tested by measuring the inhibition width of filter paper disks with filtrate. Influence of filtrate from the selected strains with strong inhibition of mycelial growth on spore germination was studied with hanging drop method on concavity slides. Colonization in the jujube leaves was assayed using a rifampicin-resistant mutant of strain St-zn-34 as the screening marker. Strains were identified based on their morphological, physiological, and biochemical characteristics, 16S rDNA sequencing, and phylogenetic analysis. A total of 81 endophytic strains were isolated from the stems, leaves, flowers, and fruits of winter jujube. Among these isolates, 14 strains showed strong antagonism against A. alternata. Further study showed that the filtrate of strains St-zn-9 and St-zn-34 could inhibit the mycelial growth of A. alternata, and the widths of their inhibition zone reached 6.14±0.03 mm and 8.27±0.09 mm, respectively. However, strain St-zn-34 showed stronger inhibition on spore germination than strain St-zn-9. St-zn-34 could significantly reduce the spore germination rate of A. alternata, and the spore did not germinate at all or the germ tube was very short. A rifampicin resistant-derivative of wild-type strain St-zn-34, which was designated as St-zn-34r, was obtained by transferring the strains to media with stepwise-increased rifampicin. Colonization assays indicated that St-zn-34r could colonize in jujube leaves, and the population of St-zn-34r was 1.2×103 CFU/g FW after inoculation for 30 days. Except for its salt tolerance, St-zn-34 was the closest to those of Bacillus subtilis. Thus, the strain was identified as B. subtilis.
Project description:Chronic inhalation of fungi and fungal components has been linked to the development of respiratory disorders, although their role with respect to the pathogenesis of acute respiratory virus infection remains unclear. Here, we evaluate inflammatory pathology induced by repetitive administration of a filtrate of the ubiquitous fungus, Alternaria alternata, and its impact on susceptibility to infection with influenza A. We showed previously that A. alternata at the nasal mucosae resulted in increased susceptibility to an otherwise sublethal inoculum of influenza A in wild-type mice. Here we demonstrate that A. alternata-induced potentiation of influenza A infection was not dependent on fungal serine protease or ribonuclease activity. Repetitive challenge with A. alternata prior to virus infection resulted proinflammatory cytokines, neutrophil recruitment, and loss of alveolar macrophages to a degree that substantially exceeded that observed in response to influenza A infection alone. Concomitant administration of immunomodulatory Lactobacillus plantarum, a strategy shown previously to limit virus-induced inflammation in the airways, blocked the exaggerated lethal response. These observations promote an improved understanding of severe influenza infection with potential clinical relevance for individuals subjected to continuous exposure to molds and fungi.