Genetics: Fungal trio sequenced

Three papers present the almost complete genome sequences of three fungus species: Aspergillus oryzae, used for food production; Aspergillus fumigatus, a common pathogen; and Aspergillus nidulans, a model organism used by many fungus geneticists.

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VOL.438 NO.7071 DATED 22 DECEMBER 2005

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* Genetics: Fungal trio sequenced

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[2], [3], & [4] Genetics: Fungal trio sequenced (pp1105-1115, 1151-1156 &

Three papers in this week's Nature present the almost complete genome
sequences of three fungus species: Aspergillus oryzae, used for food
production; Aspergillus fumigatus, a common pathogen; and Aspergillus
nidulans, a model organism used by many fungus geneticists.

Masayuki Machida and colleagues have sequenced A. oryzae, a fungus used to
ferment traditional foods and beverages in Japan such as Sake and soy sauce.
Its genome is roughly one-third larger than that of Aspergillus fumigatus or
A. nidulans. Many of the additional genes explain the particular biology of
this species. It has, for example, enzymes for the fermentation of food. The
sequence also explains why this fungus doesn't produce the toxic aflatoxin -
the aflatoxin gene was inactivated after it was passed from the related
fungus A. flavus, the researchers speculate.

William Nierman and colleagues present the sequence of A. fumigatus - a
pathogen and major allergen that can cause severe asthma. They identify
potential drug targets that may help fight infection, as well as nine
previously unknown allergens that it produces.

James Galagan and colleagues present the sequence of A. nidulans, and
compare it to the other two fungal genomes. The three genomes are quite
different from each other in that even related genes differ to the same
degree as genes between mammals and fish. What's more, they don't evolve at
similar rates when it comes to large-scale rearrangements of DNA.
The comparison also reveals that A. fumigatus and A. oryzae reproduce
sexually. Previously, researchers had thought that they reproduce asexually
by cell division. This opens the possibility to generate better strains for
industrial production or to better understand fungal infections, the
researchers say. A related News & Views article from Andre Goffeau
accompanies this research.

Masayuki Machida (National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and
Technology (AIST), Tsukuba, Japan)
Tel: +81 29 861 6164, E-mail: [email protected] - paper no: [2]

William Nierman (The Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR), Rockville, MD,
Tel: +1 301 795 7559, E-mail: [email protected] - paper no: [3]

James Galagan (Broad Institute, Cambridge, MA, USA)
Tel: +1 617 258 0479, E-mail: [email protected] - paper no: [4]

Andre Goffeau (Universite de Louvain, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium)
Tel: +32 10 47 36 14, E-mail: [email protected]

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Published: 21 Dec 2005

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