Inter-genome comparison of the Quorn fungus Fusarium venenatum and the closely related plant infecting pathogen Fusarium graminearum

Robert King, Neil Brown, Martin Urban, Kim Hammond-Kosack

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29 Citations (SciVal)


Background: The soil dwelling saprotrophic non-pathogenic fungus Fusarium venenatum, routinely used in the commercial fermentation industry, is phylogenetically closely related to the globally important cereal and non-cereal infecting pathogen F. graminearum. This study aimed to sequence, assemble and annotate the F. venenatum (strain A3/5) genome, and compare this genome with F. graminearum. Results: Using shotgun sequencing, a 38,660,329 bp F. venenatum genome was assembled into four chromosomes, and a 78,618 bp mitochondrial genome. In comparison to F. graminearum, the predicted gene count of 13,946 was slightly lower. The F. venenatum centromeres were found to be 25% smaller compared to F. graminearum. Chromosome length was 2.8% greater in F. venenatum, primarily due to an increased abundance of repetitive elements and transposons, but not transposon diversity. On chromosome 3 a major sequence rearrangement was found, but its overall gene content was relatively unchanged. Unlike homothallic F. graminearum, heterothallic F. venenatum possessed the MAT1-1 type locus, but lacked the MAT1-2 locus. The F. venenatum genome has the type A trichothecene mycotoxin TRI5 cluster, whereas F. graminearum has type B. From the F. venenatum gene set, 786 predicted proteins were species-specific versus NCBI. The annotated F. venenatum genome was predicted to possess more genes coding for hydrolytic enzymes and species-specific genes involved in the breakdown of polysaccharides than F. graminearum. Comparison of the two genomes reduced the previously defined F. graminearum-specific gene set from 741 to 692 genes. A comparison of the F. graminearum versus F. venenatum proteomes identified 15 putative secondary metabolite gene clusters (SMC), 109 secreted proteins and 38 candidate effectors not found in F. venenatum. Five of the 15 F. graminearum-specific SMCs that were either absent or highly divergent in the F. venenatum genome showed increased in planta expression. In addition, two predicted F. graminearum transcription factors previously shown to be required for fungal virulence on wheat plants were absent or exhibited high sequence divergence. Conclusions: This study identifies differences between the F. venenatum and F. graminearum genomes that may contribute to contrasting lifestyles, and highlights the repertoire of F. graminearum-specific candidate genes and SMCs potentially required for pathogenesis.

Original languageEnglish
Article number269
Pages (from-to)1-19
Number of pages19
JournalBMC Genomics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 19 Apr 2018


  • Comparative genome analyses
  • Fusarium graminearum
  • Fusarium venenatum
  • PHI-base genes
  • Secondary metabolite clusters
  • Secretome
  • Species-specific genes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Genetics


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