Identification of Virulence Factors in Nematode-Trapping Fungi - Insights from Genomics, Transcriptomics and Proteomics

Detta är en avhandling från Department of Biology, Lund University

Sammanfattning: Nematode-trapping fungi are soil-living organisms with the unique ability to capture and infect free-living nematodes. The interest in studying these fungi arises from their potential use as biological control agents for plant- and animal-parasitic nematodes. To enter the parasitic stage, nematode-trapping fungi develop different kinds of trapping structures. In order to understand more about the evolution of parasitism in the nematode-trapping fungi and to identify virulence factors in these fungi genomic, transcriptomic and proteomic studies were conducted. First, the genome of Monacrosporium haptotylum was sequenced and compared to the genome of the closely related Arthrobotrys oligospora and also to genomes of other ascomycetes. Two genomic mechanisms were identified that likely have been important for the adaptation to parasitism in these two nematode-trapping fungi. Firstly, the expansion of certain protein-domain families and a large number of species-specific genes indicated that gene duplications followed by functional diversification have played a major role in the evolution of the nematode-trapping fungi. Gene expression analyses indicated that many of these genes are important for pathogenicity. Secondly, comparisons of gene expression of orthologs between the two fungi during infection indicated that differential regulation was an important mechanism for the evolution of parasitism in nematode-trapping fungi. Second, the proteome of the trapping structure in M. haptotylum was characterized using mass spectrometry. The trapping structure in this fungus is called knob and is a single cell that can be separated from the vegetative mycelia. The results showed that there was a large difference in the protein content of the knob and that of the mycelium. The knob proteome was overrepresented in secreted proteins, including small secreted proteins, peptidases and proteins containing the carbohydrate-binding domain WSC. Transcripts encoding such proteins were also highly upregulated in M. haptotylum during infection. We suggest that the knob contains many of the proteins needed in the early stages of infection. Finally, to gain further insight about what genes that are generally regulated during infection we conducted a comparative transcriptome analysis of three nematode-trapping fungi infecting two nematode species. The analysis showed that the divergence in fungal interspecific gene expression was significantly larger than that related to the nematode host. We identified a core set of genes being expressed by all three fungi, and a more variable set being regulated depending on the fungal species or nematode host, respectively. The core set included several peptidases such as subtilisins and aspartic proteases but also ribosome-inactivating Ricin-B lectins. The variable set depending on the fungal species included fungal fruit-body lectins and D-mannose binding lectins. The host specific genes included glucosidases and genes encoding small secreted proteins.