Genome sequences of 24 Aspergillus niger sensu stricto strains to study strain diversity, heterokaryon compatibility and sexual reproduction

Sjoerd J Seekles, Maarten Punt, Niki Savelkoel, Jos Houbraken, Han A B Wösten, Robin A Ohm, Arthur F J Ram

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Mating-type distribution within a phylogenetic tree, heterokaryon compatibility, and subsequent diploid formation were studied in 24 Aspergillus niger sensu stricto strains. The genomes of the 24 strains were sequenced and analyzed revealing an average of 6.1 6 2.0 variants/kb between Aspergillus niger sensu stricto strains. The genome sequences were used together with available genome data to generate a phylogenetic tree revealing 3 distinct clades within Aspergillus niger sensu stricto. The phylogenetic tree revealed that both MAT1-1 and MAT1-2 mating types were present in each of the 3 clades. The phylogenetic differences were used to select for strains to analyze heterokaryon compatibility. Conidial color markers (fwnA and brnA) and auxotrophic markers (pyrG and nicB) were introduced via CRISPR/ Cas9-based genome editing in a selection of strains. Twenty-three parasexual crosses using 11 different strains were performed. Only a single parasexual cross between genetically highly similar strains resulted in a successful formation of heterokaryotic mycelium and subsequent diploid formation, indicating widespread heterokaryon incompatibility as well as multiple active heterokaryon incompatibility systems between Aspergillus niger sensu stricto strains. The 2 vegetatively compatible strains were of 2 different mating types and a stable diploid was isolated from this heterokaryon. Sclerotium formation was induced on agar media containing Triton X-100; however, the sclerotia remained sterile and no ascospores were observed. Nevertheless, this is the first report of a diploid Aspergillus niger sensu stricto strain with 2 different mating types, which offers the unique possibility to screen for conditions that might lead to ascospore formation in A. niger.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberjkac124
Pages (from-to)1-15
JournalG3: Genes, Genomes, Genetics
Volume12
Issue number7
Early online date24 May 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 6 Jul 2022

Keywords

  • Aspergillus niger
  • CRISPR/Cas9
  • heterokaryon incompatibility
  • heterozygous diploid
  • mating type
  • parasexual cycle
  • sclerotia
  • sexual cycle
  • whole genome sequencing

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