Filamentous fungi synthesize many secondary metabolites and are rich in genes encoding proteins involved in their biosynthesis. Genes from the same pathway are often clustered and co-expressed in particular conditions. Such secondary metabolism gene clusters evolve rapidly through multiple rearrangements, duplications and losses. It has long been suspected that clusters can be transferred horizontally between species, but few concrete examples have been described so far. In the rice blast fungus Magnaporthe grisea, the avirulence gene ACE1 that encodes for a hybrid PKS-NRPS belongs to a cluster of 15 genes involved in secondary metabolism. Additional related clusters were detected in the ascomycetes Chaetomium globosum, Stagonospora nodorum and Aspergillus clavatus. Gene-by-gene phylogenetic analysis showed that in C. globosum and M. grisea, the evolution of these ACE1-like clusters is characterized by successive complex duplication events including tandem duplication within the M. grisea cluster. The phylogenetic trees also present evidence that the homologous ACE1 gene cluster in Aspergillus clavatus originated by horizontal transfer of at least 5 genes from the M. grisea ACE1 cluster, which is a much simpler explanation of the observed data than the alternative of multiple events of duplication and losses of parts of the cluster.
Full conference title:
9th EUROPEAN CONFERENCE ON FUNGAL GENETICS
- ECFG 9th (2008)