Project description:Background:Trichoderma reesei is one of the most frequently used filamentous fungi in industry for production of homologous and heterologous proteins. The ability to use sexual crossing in this fungus was discovered several years ago and opens up new perspectives for industrial strain improvement and investigation of gene regulation. Results:Here we investigated the female sterile strain QM6a in comparison to the fertile isolate CBS999.97 and backcrossed derivatives of QM6a, which have regained fertility (FF1 and FF2 strains) in both mating types under conditions of sexual development. We found considerable differences in gene regulation between strains with the CBS999.97 genetic background and the QM6a background. Regulation patterns of QM6a largely clustered with the backcrossed FF1 and FF2 strains. Differential regulation between QM6a and FF1/FF2 as well as clustering of QM6a patterns with those of CBS999.97 strains was also observed. Consistent mating type dependent regulation was limited to mating type genes and those involved in pheromone response, but included also nta1 encoding a putative N-terminal amidase previously not associated with development. Comparison of female sterile QM6a with female fertile strains showed differential expression in genes encoding several transcription factors, metabolic genes and genes involved in secondary metabolism. Conclusions:Evaluation of the functions of genes specifically regulated under conditions of sexual development and of genes with highest levels of transcripts under these conditions indicated a relevance of secondary metabolism for sexual development in T. reesei. Among others, the biosynthetic genes of the recently characterized SOR cluster are in this gene group. However, these genes are not essential for sexual development, but rather have a function in protection and defence against competitors during reproduction.
Project description:The filamentous fungus Trichoderma reesei is found predominantly in the tropics but also in more temperate regions, such as Europe, and is widely known as a producer of large amounts of plant cell wall-degrading enzymes. We sequenced the genome of the sexually competent isolate CBS999.97, which is phenotypically different from the female sterile strain QM6a but can cross sexually with QM6a. Transcriptome data for growth on cellulose showed that entire carbohydrate-active enzyme (CAZyme) families are consistently differentially regulated between these strains. We evaluated backcrossed strains of both mating types, which acquired female fertility from CBS999.97 but maintained a mostly QM6a genetic background, and we could thereby distinguish between the effects of strain background and female fertility or mating type. We found clear regulatory differences associated with female fertility and female sterility, including regulation of CAZyme and transporter genes. Analysis of carbon source utilization, transcriptomes, and secondary metabolites in these strains revealed that only a few changes in gene regulation are consistently correlated with different mating types. Different strain backgrounds (QM6a versus CBS999.97) resulted in the most significant alterations in the transcriptomes and in carbon source utilization, with decreased growth of CBS999.97 on several amino acids (for example proline or alanine), which further correlated with the downregulation of genes involved in the respective pathways. In combination, our findings support a role of fertility-associated processes in physiology and gene regulation and are of high relevance for the use of sexual crossing in combining the characteristics of two compatible strains or quantitative trait locus (QTL) analysis.IMPORTANCETrichoderma reesei is a filamentous fungus with a high potential for secretion of plant cell wall-degrading enzymes. We sequenced the genome of the fully fertile field isolate CBS999.97 and analyzed its gene regulation characteristics in comparison with the commonly used laboratory wild-type strain QM6a, which is not female fertile. Additionally, we also evaluated fully fertile strains with genotypes very close to that of QM6a in order to distinguish between strain-specific and fertility-specific characteristics. We found that QM6a and CBS999.97 clearly differ in their growth patterns on different carbon sources, CAZyme gene regulation, and secondary metabolism. Importantly, we found altered regulation of 90 genes associated with female fertility, including CAZyme genes and transporter genes, but only minor mating type-dependent differences. Hence, when using sexual crossing in research and for strain improvement, it is important to consider female fertile and female sterile strains for comparison with QM6a and to achieve optimal performance.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Filamentous fungi are frequently used as production platforms in industrial biotechnology. Most of the strains involved were known as reproducing exclusively asexually thereby preventing the application of conventional strain breeding techniques. In the last decade, evidence was obtained that a number of these imperfect fungi possess a sexual life cycle, too. Trichoderma reesei, an industrial producer of enzymes for food, feed and biorefinery purposes, is heterothallic and takes a special position among industrially utilized species as all industrial strains are derived from the single MAT1-2 isolate QM6a. Consequently, strain improvement by crossing is not feasible within this strain line as this necessitates a MAT1-1 mating partner. Simply switching the mating type in one of the mating partners to MAT1-1, however, is not sufficient to produce a genotype capable of sexual reproduction with QM6a MAT1-2. RESULTS:We have used a systems biology approach to identify genes restoring sexual reproduction in the QM6a strain line. To this end, T. reesei QM6a was crossed with the MAT1-1 wild-type strain CBS999.97. The descendants were backcrossed 8-times in two lineages with QM6a to obtain mating competent MAT1-1 strains with a minimal set of CBS999.97 specific genes. Comparative genome analysis identified a total of 73 genes of which two-encoding an unknown C2H2/ankyrin protein and a homolog of the WD-protein HAM5-were identified to be essential for fruiting body formation. The introduction of a functional ham5 allele in a mating type switched T. reesei QM6a allowed sexual crossing with the parental strain QM6a. CONCLUSION:The finding that Trichoderma reesei is generally capable of undergoing sexual reproduction even under laboratory conditions raised hope for the applicability of classical breeding techniques with this fungus as known for plants and certain yeasts. The discovery that the wild-type isolate QM6a was female sterile, however, precluded any progress along that line. With the discovery of the genetic cause of female sterility and the creation of an engineered fertile strain we now provide the basis to establish sexual crossing in this fungus and herald a new era of strain improvement in T. reesei.
Project description:Discovery of sexual development in the ascomycete Trichoderma reesei (Hypocrea jecorina) as well as detection of a novel class of peptide pheromone precursors in this fungus indicates promising insights into its physiology and lifestyle. Here we investigated the role of the two pheromone receptors HPR1 and HPR2 in the H. jecorina pheromone-system. We found that these pheromone receptors show an unexpectedly high genetic variability among H. jecorina strains. HPR1 and HPR2 confer female fertility in their cognate mating types (MAT1-1 or MAT1-2, respectively) and mediate induction of fruiting body development. One compatible pheromone precursor-pheromone receptor pair (hpr1-hpp1 or hpr2-ppg1) in mating partners was sufficient for sexual development. Additionally, pheromone receptors were essential for ascospore development, hence indicating their involvement in post-fertilisation events. Neither pheromone precursor genes nor pheromone receptor genes of H. jecorina were transcribed in a strictly mating type dependent manner, but showed enhanced expression levels in the cognate mating type. In the presence of a mating partner under conditions favoring sexual development, transcript levels of pheromone precursors were significantly increased, while those of pheromone receptor genes do not show this trend. In the female sterile T. reesei strain QM6a, transcriptional responses of pheromone precursor and pheromone receptor genes to a mating partner were clearly altered compared to the female fertile wild-type strain CBS999.97. Consequently, a delayed and inappropriate response to the mating partner may be one aspect causing female sterility in QM6a.
Project description:BACKGROUND:The presence of low complexity and repeated regions in genomes often results in difficulties to assemble sequencing data into full chromosomes. However, the availability of full genome scaffolds is essential to several investigations, regarding for instance the evolution of entire clades, the analysis of chromosome rearrangements, and is pivotal to sexual crossing studies. In non-conventional but industrially relevant model organisms, such as the ascomycete Trichoderma reesei, a complete genome assembly is seldom available. RESULTS:The chromosome scaffolds of T. reesei QM6a and Rut-C30 strains have been generated using a contact genomic/proximity ligation genomic approach. The original reference assembly, encompassing dozens of scaffolds, was reorganized into two sets of seven chromosomes. Chromosomal contact data also allowed to characterize 10-40 kb, gene-free, AT-rich (76%) regions corresponding to the T. reesei centromeres. Large chromosomal rearrangements (LCR) in Rut-C30 were then characterized, in agreement with former studies, and the position of LCR breakpoints used to assess the likely chromosome structure of other T. reesei strains [QM9414, CBS999.97 (1-1, re), and QM9978]. In agreement with published results, we predict that the numerous chromosome rearrangements found in highly mutated industrial strains may limit the efficiency of sexual reproduction for their improvement. CONCLUSIONS:The GRAAL program allowed us to generate the karyotype of the Rut-C30 strain, and from there to predict chromosome structure for most T. reesei strains for which sequence is available. This method that exploits proximity ligation sequencing approach is a fast, cheap, and straightforward way to characterize both chromosome structure and centromere sequences and is likely to represent a popular convenient alternative to expensive and work-intensive resequencing projects.
Project description:Due to its capability to secrete large quantities of plant biomass degrading enzymes (PBDE), Trichoderma reesei is widely applied for industrial purposes. In nature, expression of PBDE is efficiently regulated in this fungus. Several factors involved in this regulatory network have been identified. However, most of them are transcription factors. Long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) emerged as common players acting on epigenetic or transcriptional regulation in several eukaryotic organisms. To date, no lncRNA has been described in filamentous fungi.A lncRNA termed HAX1 was identified in T. reesei QM9414. In this study, it was characterized and evidence for its regulatory impact on cellulase expression was provided. Interestingly, different versions of HAX1 were identified in different strains (namely, QM6a, QM9414, and Rut-C30), varying in terms of RNA length. Remarkably, considerable longer variants of this lncRNA are present in hypercellulolytic strains compared to the wild-type strain QM6a. Based on these results, a correlation between RNA length and the functional impact of HAX1 on PBDE expression was supposed. This assumption was verified by overexpressing the most abundant HAX1 versions identified in QM6a, QM9414, and Rut-C30. Such HAX1 overexpression on the one hand was suitable for regaining the function in hax1 disruption strains, and on the other hand resulted in notably higher cellulase activities in QM6a, especially by the expression of longer HAX1 versions.With HAX1, for the first time the regulatory role of a lncRNA in filamentous fungi was uncovered. Besides this, a new player involved in the complex regulation of PBDE expression in T. reesei was identified. Due to its enhancing effect on cellulase activity, HAX1 was shown to be not only interesting for basic research, but also a promising candidate for expanding the set of biotechnological tools for industrial application of T. reesei.
Project description:Filamentous fungi are indispensable biotechnological tools for the production of organic chemicals, enzymes, and antibiotics. Most of the strains used for industrial applications have been--and still are--screened and improved by classical mutagenesis. Sexual crossing approaches would yield considerable advantages for research and industrial strain improvement, but interestingly, industrially applied filamentous fungal species have so far been considered to be largely asexual. This is also true for the ascomycete Trichoderma reesei (anamorph of Hypocrea jecorina), which is used for production of cellulolytic and hemicellulolytic enzymes. In this study, we report that T. reesei QM6a has a MAT1-2 mating type locus, and the identification of its respective mating type counterpart, MAT1-1, in natural isolates of H. jecorina, thus proving that this is a heterothallic species. After being considered asexual since its discovery more than 50 years ago, we were now able to induce sexual reproduction of T. reesei QM6a and obtained fertilized stromata and mature ascospores. This sexual crossing approach therefore opens up perspectives for biotechnologically important fungi. Our findings provide a tool for fast and efficient industrial strain improvement in T. reesei, thus boosting research toward economically feasible biofuel production. In addition, knowledge of MAT-loci and sexual crossing techniques will facilitate research with other Trichoderma spp. relevant for agriculture and human health.
Project description:The ascomycete Trichoderma reesei is an industrial producer of cellulolytic and hemicellulolytic enzymes and also serves as a model for investigations on these enzymes and their genes. The strain QM9978 has a cellulase negative phenotype and therefore presents a valuable tool for understanding the mechanisms underlying cellulase regulation. A transcriptomic analyses of the cellulase negative strain QM9978 and the original strain QM6a have been performed to identify the genetic differences between QM6a and QM9978 leading to the cellulase-negative phenotype Overall design: Two strains were used: T. reesei QM6a (ATCC13631) and QM9978 (Torigoi, E. et al. Mutants of Trichoderma reesei are defective in cellulose induction, but not basal expression of cellulase-encoding genes. Gene 173, 199-203 (1996)) with two time points for each strain T0h (glucose starvation), T24h and T48h (after lactose pulse). All samples are in duplicate.
Project description:Trichoderma reesei is the main filamentous fungus used in industry to produce cellulases. Here we investigated the role of CRZ1 and Ca2+signaling in the fungus T. reesei QM6a concerning holocellulases production. For this, we first searched for potential CRZ1 binding sites in promoter regions of key genes coding holocellulases, as well as transcriptional regulators and sugar and calcium transporters. Using a nearly constructed T. reeseiAcrz1 strain, we demonstrated that most of the genes expected to be regulated by CRZ1 were affected in the mutant strain induced with sugarcane bagasse (SCB) and cellulose. In particular, our data demonstrate that Ca2+ acts synergistically with CRZ1 to modulate gene expression, but also exerts CRZ1-independent regulatory role in gene expression in T. reesei, highlighting the role of the major regulator Ca2+ on the signaling for holocellulases transcriptional control in the most part of cellulases genes here investigated. This work presents new evidence on the regulatory role of CRZ1 and Ca2+ sensing in the regulation of cellulolytic enzymes in T. reesei, evidencing significant and previously unknown function of this Ca2+sensing system in the control key transcriptional regulators (XYR1 and CRE1) and on the expression of genes related to sugar and Ca2+ transport.