ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202207.0007.v1
Subject: Biology And Life Sciences, Forestry Keywords: Fusarium fujikuroi species complex; Fusarium circinatum; Fusarium temperatum; pitch canker; comparative genomics; host-specificity; horizontal gene transfer; subtelomeres
Online: 1 July 2022 (08:04:13 CEST)
The Fusarium fujikuroi species complex (FFSC) includes socioeconomically important pathogens that cause disease and/or mycotoxin contamination on numerous crops. Here, we used comparative genomics to elucidate processes underlying the ability of pine-associated and grass-associated FFSC species to colonize tissues of their respective plant hosts. We characterized the identity, possible functions, evolutionary origins, and chromosomal positions of the host-range-associated genes encoded by the two groups of fungi. The 72 and 47 genes identified as unique to the respective genome groups were potentially involved in diverse processes, ranging from transcription, regulation, and substrate transport, through to virulence/pathogenicity. Most emerged early during the evolution of Fusarium/FFSC and were subsequently retained only in some lineages, while some had origins outside Fusarium. Although differences in the densities of these genes were especially noticeable on the conditionally dispensable chromosome of F. temperatum (representing the grass-associates) and F. circinatum (representing the pine-associates), the host-range-associated genes tended to be located towards the subtelomeric regions of chromosomes. Taken together, these results demonstrate that multiple mechanisms drive the emergence of genes in grass- and pine-associated FFSC taxa examined and highlighted the diversity of molecular processes potentially underlying niche-specificity in these and other Fusarium species.