Genes acquired by horizontal transfer are potentially involved in the evolution of phytopathogenicity in moniliophthora perniciosa and moniliophthora roreri, two of the major pathogens of cacao

Ricardo Augusto Tiburcio, Gustavo Gilson Lacerda Costa, Marcelo Falsarella Carazzolle, Jorge Mauŕcio Costa Mondego, Stephen C. Schuster, John Edward Carlson, Mark Guiltinan, Bryan A. Bailey, Piotr Mieczkowski, Lyndel W. Meinhardt, Gonçalo Amarante Guimarães Pereira

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Moniliophthora perniciosa and Moniliophthora roreri are phytopathogenic basidiomycete species that infect cacao causing two important diseases in this crop: Witches Broom and Frosty Pod Rot, respectively. The ability of species from this genus (Moniliophthora) to cause disease is exceptional in the family Marasmiaceae. Species in closely related genera including, Marasmius, Crinipellis, and Chaetocalathus, are mainly saprotrophs and are not known to cause disease. In this study, the possibility that this phytopathogenic lifestyle has been acquired by horizontal gene transfer (HGT) was investigated. A stringent genome comparison pipeline was used to identify potential genes that have been obtained by Moniliophthora through HGT. This search led to the identification of three genes: a metallo-dependent hydrolase (MDH), a mannitol phosphate dehydrogenase (MPDH), and a family of necrosis-inducing proteins (NEPs). Phylogenetic analysis of these genes suggests that Moniliophthora acquired NEPs from oomycetes, MDH from actinobacteria and MPDH from firmicutes. Based on the known gene functions and on previous studies of M. perniciosa infection and development, a correlation between gene acquisition and the evolution of the phytopathogenic genus Moniliophthora can be postulated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)85-97
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Molecular Evolution
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2010


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics

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