Rapid Divergence of Genome Architectures Following the Origin of an Ectomycorrhizal Symbiosis in the Genus Amanita


Fungi are evolutionary shape shifters and adapt quickly to new environments. Ectomycorrhizal (EM) symbioses are mutualistic associations between fungi and plants and have evolved repeatedly and independently across the fungal tree of life, suggesting lineages frequently reconfigure genome content to take advantage of open ecological niches. To date analyses of genomic mechanisms facilitating EM symbioses have involved comparisons of distantly related species, but here, we use the genomes of three EM and two asymbiotic (AS) fungi from the genus Amanita as well as an AS outgroup to study genome evolution following a single origin of symbiosis. Our aim was to identify the defining features of EM genomes, but our analyses suggest no clear differentiation of genome size, gene repertoire size, or transposable element content between EM and AS species. Phylogenetic inference of gene gains and losses suggests the transition to symbiosis was dominated by the loss of plant cell wall decomposition genes, a confirmation of previous findings. However, the same dynamic defines the AS species A. inopinata, suggesting loss is not strictly associated with origin of symbiosis. Gene expansions in the common ancestor of EM Amanita were modest, but lineage specific and large gene family expansions are found in two of the three EM extant species. Even closely related EM genomes appear to share few common features. The genetic toolkit required for symbiosis appears already encoded in the genomes of saprotrophic species, and this dynamic may explain the pervasive, recurrent evolution of ectomycorrhizal associations.

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