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  1. Baldauf, Sandra (Ed.)
    Abstract Improved sequencing technologies have profoundly altered global views of fungal diversity and evolution. High-throughput sequencing methods are critical for studying fungi due to the cryptic, symbiotic nature of many species, particularly those that are difficult to culture. However, the low coverage genome sequencing (LCGS) approach to phylogenomic inference has not been widely applied to fungi. Here we analyzed 171 Kickxellomycotina fungi using LCGS methods to obtain hundreds of marker genes for robust phylogenomic reconstruction. Additionally, we mined our LCGS data for a set of nine rDNA and protein coding genes to enable analyses across species for which no LCGS data were obtained. The main goals of this study were to: 1) evaluate the quality and utility of LCGS data for both phylogenetic reconstruction and functional annotation, 2) test relationships among clades of Kickxellomycotina, and 3) perform comparative functional analyses between clades to gain insight into putative trophic modes. In opposition to previous studies, our nine-gene analyses support two clades of arthropod gut dwelling species and suggest a possible single evolutionary event leading to this symbiotic lifestyle. Furthermore, we resolve the mycoparasitic Dimargaritales as the earliest diverging clade in the subphylum and find four major clades of Coemansia species. Finally,more »functional analyses illustrate clear variation in predicted carbohydrate active enzymes and secondary metabolites (SM) based on ecology, that is biotroph versus saprotroph. Saprotrophic Kickxellales broadly lack many known pectinase families compared with saprotrophic Mucoromycota and are depauperate for SM but have similar numbers of predicted chitinases as mycoparasitic.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 1, 2024
  2. Abstract

    Lignocellulose forms plant cell walls, and its three constituent polymers, cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin, represent the largest renewable organic carbon pool in the terrestrial biosphere. Insights into biological lignocellulose deconstruction inform understandings of global carbon sequestration dynamics and provide inspiration for biotechnologies seeking to address the current climate crisis by producing renewable chemicals from plant biomass. Organisms in diverse environments disassemble lignocellulose, and carbohydrate degradation processes are well defined, but biological lignin deconstruction is described only in aerobic systems. It is currently unclear whether anaerobic lignin deconstruction is impossible because of biochemical constraints or, alternatively, has not yet been measured. We applied whole cell-wall nuclear magnetic resonance, gel-permeation chromatography and transcriptome sequencing to interrogate the apparent paradox that anaerobic fungi (Neocallimastigomycetes), well-documented lignocellulose degradation specialists, are unable to modify lignin. We find that Neocallimastigomycetes anaerobically break chemical bonds in grass and hardwood lignins, and we further associate upregulated gene products with the observed lignocellulose deconstruction. These findings alter perceptions of lignin deconstruction by anaerobes and provide opportunities to advance decarbonization biotechnologies that depend on depolymerizing lignocellulose.

  3. Abstract

    A number of crop wild relatives can tolerate extreme stress to a degree outside the range observed in their domesticated relatives. However, it is unclear whether or how the molecular mechanisms employed by these species can be translated to domesticated crops. Paspalum (Paspalum vaginatum) is a self-incompatible and multiply stress-tolerant wild relative of maize and sorghum. Here, we describe the sequencing and pseudomolecule level assembly of a vegetatively propagated accession ofP. vaginatum. Phylogenetic analysis based on 6,151 single-copy syntenic orthologues conserved in 6 related grass species places paspalum as an outgroup of the maize-sorghum clade. In parallel metabolic experiments, paspalum, but neither maize nor sorghum, exhibits a significant increase in trehalose when grown under nutrient-deficit conditions. Inducing trehalose accumulation in maize, imitating the metabolic phenotype of paspalum, results in autophagy dependent increases in biomass accumulation.

  4. Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 1, 2023
  5. Most of the described species in kingdom Fungi are contained in two phyla, the Ascomycota and the Basidiomycota (subkingdom Dikarya). As a result, our understanding of the biology of the kingdom is heavily influenced by traits observed in Dikarya, such as aerial spore dispersal and life cycles dominated by mitosis of haploid nuclei. We now appreciate that Fungi comprises numerous phylum-level lineages in addition to those of Dikarya, but the phylogeny and genetic characteristics of most of these lineages are poorly understood due to limited genome sampling. Here, we addressed major evolutionary trends in the non-Dikarya fungi by phylogenomic analysis of 69 newly generated draft genome sequences of the zoosporic (flagellated) lineages of true fungi. Our phylogeny indicated five lineages of zoosporic fungi and placed Blastocladiomycota, which has an alternation of haploid and diploid generations, as branching closer to the Dikarya than to the Chytridiomyceta. Our estimates of heterozygosity based on genome sequence data indicate that the zoosporic lineages plus the Zoopagomycota are frequently characterized by diploid-dominant life cycles. We mapped additional traits, such as ancestral cell-cycle regulators, cell-membrane– and cell-wall–associated genes, and the use of the amino acid selenocysteine on the phylogeny and found that these ancestral traits thatmore »are shared with Metazoa have been subject to extensive parallel loss across zoosporic lineages. Together, our results indicate a gradual transition in the genetics and cell biology of fungi from their ancestor and caution against assuming that traits measured in Dikarya are typical of other fungal lineages.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available September 6, 2023
  6. Abstract

    Sex dimorphism and gene expression were studied in developing catkins in 159 F2 individuals from the bioenergy crop Salix purpurea, and potential mechanisms and pathways for regulating sex development were explored. Differential expression, eQTL, bisulfite sequencing, and network analysis were used to characterize sex dimorphism, detect candidate master regulator genes, and identify pathways through which the sex determination region (SDR) may mediate sex dimorphism. Eleven genes are presented as candidates for master regulators of sex, supported by gene expression and network analyses. These include genes putatively involved in hormone signaling, epigenetic modification, and regulation of transcription. eQTL analysis revealed a suite of transcription factors and genes involved in secondary metabolism and floral development that were predicted to be under direct control of the sex determination region. Furthermore, data from bisulfite sequencing and small RNA sequencing revealed strong differences in expression between males and females that would implicate both of these processes in sex dimorphism pathways. These data indicate that the mechanism of sex determination in Salix purpurea is likely different from that observed in the related genus Populus. This further demonstrates the dynamic nature of SDRs in plants, which involves a multitude of mechanisms of sex determination and amore »high rate of turnover.

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  7. Polycomb Group (PcG) proteins are part of an epigenetic cell memory system that plays essential roles in multicellular development, stem cell biology, X chromosome inactivation, and cancer. In animals, plants, and many fungi, Polycomb Repressive Complex 2 (PRC2) catalyzes trimethylation of histone H3 lysine 27 (H3K27me3) to assemble transcriptionally repressed facultative heterochromatin. PRC2 is structurally and functionally conserved in the model fungusNeurospora crassa, and recent work in this organism has generated insights into PRC2 control and function. To identify components of the facultative heterochromatin pathway, we performed a targeted screen ofNeurosporadeletion strains lacking individual ATP-dependent chromatin remodeling enzymes. We found theNeurosporahomolog of IMITATION SWITCH (ISW) is critical for normal transcriptional repression, nucleosome organization, and establishment of typical histone methylation patterns in facultative heterochromatin domains. We also found that stable interaction between PRC2 and chromatin depends on ISW. A functional ISW ATPase domain is required for gene repression and normal H3K27 methylation. ISW homologs interact with accessory proteins to form multiple complexes with distinct functions. Using proteomics and molecular approaches, we identified three distinctNeurosporaISW-containing complexes. A triple mutant lacking three ISW accessory factors and disrupting multiple ISW complexes led to widespread up-regulation of PRC2 target genes and altered H3K27 methylation patterns,more »similar to an ISW-deficient strain. Taken together, our data show that ISW is a key component of the facultative heterochromatin pathway inNeurospora, and that distinct ISW complexes perform an apparently overlapping role to regulate chromatin structure and gene repression at PRC2 target domains.

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