Expansion of Adhesion Genes Drives Pathogenic Adaptation of Nematode-Trapping Fungi.
ABSTRACT: Understanding how fungi interact with other organisms has significant medical, environmental, and agricultural implications. Nematode-trapping fungi (NTF) can switch to pathogens by producing various trapping devices to capture nematodes. Here we perform comparative genomic analysis of the NTF with four representative trapping devices. Phylogenomic reconstruction of these NTF suggested an evolutionary trend of trapping device simplification in morphology. Interestingly, trapping device simplification was accompanied by expansion of gene families encoding adhesion proteins and their increasing adhesiveness on trap surfaces. Gene expression analysis revealed a consistent up-regulation of the adhesion genes during their lifestyle transition from saprophytic to nematophagous stages. Our results suggest that the expansion of adhesion genes in NTF genomes and consequential increase in trap surface adhesiveness are likely the key drivers of fungal adaptation in trapping nematodes, providing new insights into understanding mechanisms underlying infection and adaptation of pathogenic fungi.
Project description:The recognition of molecular patterns associated with specific pathogens or food sources is fundamental to ecology and plays a major role in the evolution of predator-prey relationships. Recent studies showed that nematodes produce an evolutionarily highly conserved family of small molecules, the ascarosides, which serve essential functions in regulating nematode development and behavior. Here, we show that nematophagous fungi, natural predators of soil-dwelling nematodes, can detect and respond to ascarosides. Nematophagous fungi use specialized trapping devices to catch and consume nematodes, and previous studies demonstrated that most fungal species do not produce traps constitutively but rather initiate trap formation in response to their prey. We found that ascarosides, which are constitutively secreted by many species of soil-dwelling nematodes, represent a conserved molecular pattern used by nematophagous fungi to detect prey and trigger trap formation. Ascaroside-induced morphogenesis is conserved in several closely related species of nematophagous fungi and occurs only under nutrient-deprived conditions. Our results demonstrate that microbial predators eavesdrop on chemical communication among their metazoan prey to regulate morphogenesis, providing a striking example of predator-prey coevolution. We anticipate that these findings will have broader implications for understanding other interkingdom interactions involving nematodes, which are found in almost any ecological niche on Earth.
Project description:Nematode-trapping fungi (NTF) are a group of specialized microbial predators that consume nematodes when food sources are limited. Predation is initiated when conserved nematode ascaroside pheromones are sensed, followed by the development of complex trapping devices. To gain insights into the coevolution of this interkingdom predator-prey relationship, we investigated natural populations of nematodes and NTF that we found to be ubiquitous in soils. Arthrobotrys species were sympatric with various nematode species and behaved as generalist predators. The ability to sense prey among wild isolates of Arthrobotrys oligospora varied greatly, as determined by the number of traps after exposure to Caenorhabditis elegans While some strains were highly sensitive to C. elegans and the nematode pheromone ascarosides, others responded only weakly. Furthermore, strains that were highly sensitive to the nematode prey also developed traps faster. The polymorphic nature of trap formation correlated with competency in prey killing, as well as with the phylogeny of A. oligospora natural strains, calculated after assembly and annotation of the genomes of 20 isolates. A chromosome-level genome assembly and annotation were established for one of the most sensitive wild isolates, and deletion of the only G-protein ?-subunit-encoding gene of A. oligospora nearly abolished trap formation. In summary, our study establishes a highly responsive A. oligospora wild isolate as a model strain for the study of fungus-nematode interactions and demonstrates that trap formation is a fitness character in generalist predators of the nematode-trapping fungus family.
Project description: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.
Project description:Nematophagous fungi are soil-living fungi that are used as biological control agents of plant and animal parasitic nematodes. Their potential could be improved by genetic engineering, but the lack of information about the molecular background of the infection has precluded this development. In this paper we report that a subtilisin-like extracellular serine protease designated PII is an important pathogenicity factor in the common nematode-trapping fungus Arthrobotrys oligospora. The transcript of PII was not detected during the early stages of infection (adhesion and penetration), but high levels were expressed concurrent with the killing and colonization of the nematode. Disruption of the PII gene by homologous recombination had a limited effect on the pathogenicity of the fungus. However, mutants containing additional copies of the PII gene developed a higher number of infection structures and had an increased speed of capturing and killing nematodes compared to the wild type. The paralyzing activity of PII was verified by demonstrating that a heterologous-produced PII (in Aspergillus niger) had a nematotoxic activity when added to free-living nematodes. The toxic activity of PII was significantly higher than that of other commercially available serine proteases. This is the first report showing that genetic engineering can be used to improve the pathogenicity of a nematode-trapping fungus. In the future it should be possible to express recombinant subtilisins with nematicidal activity in other organisms that are present in the habitat of parasitic nematodes (e.g., host plant).
Project description:Root-knot nematodes (RKN) such as Meloidogyne spp. are among the most detrimental pests in agriculture affecting several crops. New methodologies to manage RKN are needed such as efficient discovery of nematophagous microbes. In this study, we developed an in vitro high-throughput method relying on the free-living nematode Caenorhabditis elegans and the infection of those nematodes with a soil slurry containing a microbiome likely to house nematophagous microbes. Nematodes were monitored for presence of infection and sub-cultured repeatedly for the purpose of isolating pure cultures of the microbe responsible for conferring the nematicidal activity. Once soil microbes were confirmed to be antagonistic to C. elegans, they were tested for pathogenicity against Meloidogyne chitwoodi. Using this methodology, the fungal isolate Mortierella globalpina was confirmed to be pathogenic in vitro against M. chitwoodi by nematode trapping via hyphal adhesion to the cuticle layer, penetration of the cuticle layer, and subsequently digestion of its cellular contents. M. globalpina was also observed to reduce disease symptomology of RKNs in vivo via significant reduction of root-galls on tomato (Solanum lycopersicum var. Rutgers).
Project description:Many nematophagous fungi use morphological structures called traps to capture nematodes by adhesion or mechanically. To better understand the cellular functions of adhesive traps, the trap cell proteome of the fungus Monacrosporium haptotylum was characterized. The trap of M. haptotylum consists of a unicellular structure called a knob that develops at the apex of a hypha. Proteins extracted from knobs and mycelia were analyzed using SDS-PAGE and liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS-MS). The peptide sequences were matched against predicted gene models from the recently sequenced M. haptotylum genome. In total, 336 proteins were identified, with 54 expressed at significantly higher levels in the knobs than in the mycelia. The upregulated knob proteins included peptidases, small secreted proteins with unknown functions, and putative cell surface adhesins containing carbohydrate-binding domains, including the WSC domain. Phylogenetic analysis showed that all upregulated WSC domain proteins belonged to a large, expanded cluster of paralogs in M. haptotylum. Several peptidases and homologs of experimentally verified proteins in other pathogenic fungi were also upregulated in the knob proteome. Complementary profiling of gene expression at the transcriptome level showed poor correlation between the upregulation of knob proteins and their corresponding transcripts. We propose that the traps of M. haptotylum contain many of the proteins needed in the early stages of infection and that the trap cells can tightly control the translation and degradation of these proteins to minimize the cost of protein synthesis.
Project description:Arthrobotrys oligospora is a typical nematode-trapping fungus capturing free-living nematodes by adhesive networks. Component of the low-affinity calcium uptake system (LACS) has been documented to involve in growth and sexual development of filamentous fungi. Bioassay showed incapacity of trap formation in A. oligospora on Water Agar plate containing 1 mM ethylene glycol tetraacetic acid (EGTA) due to Ca2+ absorbing block. The functions of homologous proteins (AoFIG_1 and AoFIG_2) of LACS were examined on conidiation and trap formation of A. oligospora. Compared with wild type, ΔAoFIG_1 (AOL_s00007g566) resulted in 90% of trap reduction, while ΔAoFIG_2 (AOL_s00004g576) reduced vegetative growth rate up to 44% and had no trap and conidia formed. The results suggest that LACS transmembrane protein fig1 homologs play vital roles in the trap-formation and is involved in conidiation and mycelium growth of A. oligospora. Our findings expand fig1 role to include development of complex trap device and conidiation.
Project description:Nematophagous fungi employ three distinct predatory strategies: nematode trapping, parasitism of females and eggs, and endoparasitism. While endoparasites play key roles in controlling nematode populations in nature, their application for integrated pest management is hindered by the limited understanding of their biology. We present a comparative analysis of a high quality finished genome assembly of Drechmeria coniospora, a model endoparasitic nematophagous fungus, integrated with a transcriptomic study. Adaptation of D. coniospora to its almost completely obligate endoparasitic lifestyle led to the simplification of many orthologous gene families involved in the saprophytic trophic mode, while maintaining orthologs of most known fungal pathogen-host interaction proteins, stress response circuits and putative effectors of the small secreted protein type. The need to adhere to and penetrate the host cuticle led to a selective radiation of surface proteins and hydrolytic enzymes. Although the endoparasite has a simplified secondary metabolome, it produces a novel peptaibiotic family that shows antibacterial, antifungal and nematicidal activities. Our analyses emphasize the basic malleability of the D. coniospora genome: loss of genes advantageous for the saprophytic lifestyle; modulation of elements that its cohort species utilize for entomopathogenesis; and expansion of protein families necessary for the nematode endoparasitic lifestyle.
Project description:Nematode-trapping fungi are a unique group of organisms that can capture nematodes using sophisticated trapping structures. The genome of Drechslerella stenobrocha, a constricting-ring-forming fungus, has been sequenced and reported, and provided new insights into the evolutionary origins of nematode predation in fungi, the trapping mechanisms, and the dual lifestyles of saprophagy and predation.The genome of the fungus Drechslerella stenobrocha, which mechanically traps nematodes using a constricting ring, was sequenced. The genome was 29.02 Mb in size and was found rare instances of transposons and repeat induced point mutations, than that of Arthrobotrys oligospora. The functional proteins involved in nematode-infection, such as chitinases, subtilisins, and adhesive proteins, underwent a significant expansion in the A. oligospora genome, while there were fewer lectin genes that mediate fungus-nematode recognition in the D. stenobrocha genome. The carbohydrate-degrading enzyme catalogs in both species were similar to those of efficient cellulolytic fungi, suggesting a saprophytic origin of nematode-trapping fungi. In D. stenobrocha, the down-regulation of saprophytic enzyme genes and the up-regulation of infection-related genes during the capture of nematodes indicated a transition between dual life strategies of saprophagy and predation. The transcriptional profiles also indicated that trap formation was related to the protein kinase C (PKC) signal pathway and regulated by Zn(2)-C6 type transcription factors.The genome of D. stenobrocha provides support for the hypothesis that nematode trapping fungi evolved from saprophytic fungi in a high carbon and low nitrogen environment. It reveals the transition between saprophagy and predation of these fungi and also proves new insights into the mechanisms of mechanical trapping.
Project description:Nematode-trapping fungi are "carnivorous" and attack their hosts using specialized trapping devices. The morphological development of these traps is the key indicator of their switch from saprophytic to predacious lifestyles. Here, the genome of the nematode-trapping fungus Arthrobotrys oligospora Fres. (ATCC24927) was reported. The genome contains 40.07 Mb assembled sequence with 11,479 predicted genes. Comparative analysis showed that A. oligospora shared many more genes with pathogenic fungi than with non-pathogenic fungi. Specifically, compared to several sequenced ascomycete fungi, the A. oligospora genome has a larger number of pathogenicity-related genes in the subtilisin, cellulase, cellobiohydrolase, and pectinesterase gene families. Searching against the pathogen-host interaction gene database identified 398 homologous genes involved in pathogenicity in other fungi. The analysis of repetitive sequences provided evidence for repeat-induced point mutations in A. oligospora. Proteomic and quantitative PCR (qPCR) analyses revealed that 90 genes were significantly up-regulated at the early stage of trap-formation by nematode extracts and most of these genes were involved in translation, amino acid metabolism, carbohydrate metabolism, cell wall and membrane biogenesis. Based on the combined genomic, proteomic and qPCR data, a model for the formation of nematode trapping device in this fungus was proposed. In this model, multiple fungal signal transduction pathways are activated by its nematode prey to further regulate downstream genes associated with diverse cellular processes such as energy metabolism, biosynthesis of the cell wall and adhesive proteins, cell division, glycerol accumulation and peroxisome biogenesis. This study will facilitate the identification of pathogenicity-related genes and provide a broad foundation for understanding the molecular and evolutionary mechanisms underlying fungi-nematodes interactions.