The filamentous fungi Aspergillus parasiticus and Aspergillus flavus produce the carcinogenic secondary metabolite aflatoxin on susceptible crops. These species differ in the quantity of aflatoxins B1, B2, G1, and G2 produced in culture, in the ability to produce the mycotoxin cyclopiazonic acid, and in morphology of mycelia and conidiospores. To understand the genetic basis for differences in biochemistry and morphology, we conducted next-generation sequence (NGS) analysis of the A. parasiticus strain SU-1 genome and comparative gene expression (RNA sequence analysis [RNA Seq]) analysis of A. parasiticus SU-1 andA. flavus strain NRRL 3357 (3357) grown under aflatoxin-inducing and -noninducing culture conditions. Although A. parasiticus SU-1 and A. flavus 3357 are highly similar in genome structure and gene organization, we observed differences in the presence of specific mycotoxin gene clusters and differential expression of specific mycotoxin genes and gene clusters that help explain differences in the type and quantity of mycotoxins synthesized. Using computer-aided analysis of secondary metabolite clusters (antiSMASH), we demonstrated that A. parasiticus SU-1 and A. flavus 3357 may carry up to 93 secondary metabolite gene clusters, and surprisingly, up to 10% of the genome appears to be dedicated to secondary metabolite synthesis. The data also suggest that fungus-specific zinc binuclear cluster (C6) transcription factors play an important role in regulation of secondary metabolite cluster expression. Finally, we identified uniquely expressed genes in A. parasiticus SU-1 that encode C6 transcription factors and genes involved in secondary metabolism and stress response/cellular defense. Future work will focus on these differentially expressed A. parasiticus SU-1 loci to reveal their role in determining distinct species characteristics.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology