Gonçalves, M. F. M., Hilário, S., Tacão, M., Van de Peer, Y., Alves, A., & Esteves, A. C. (2021). Genome and metabolome MS-based mining of a marine strain of Aspergillus affinis. JOURNAL OF FUNGI, 7(12). https://doi.org/10.3390/jof7121091
Aspergillus section Circumdati encompasses several species that express both beneficial (e.g., biochemical transformation of steroids and alkaloids, enzymes and metabolites) and harmful compounds (e.g., production of ochratoxin A (OTA)). Given their relevance, it is important to analyze the genetic and metabolic diversity of the species of this section. We sequenced the genome of Aspergillus affinis CMG 70, isolated from sea water, and compared it with the genomes of species from section Circumdati, including A. affinis’s strain type. The A. affinis genome was characterized considering secondary metabolites biosynthetic gene clusters (BGCs), carbohydrate-active enzymes (CAZymes), and transporters. To uncover the biosynthetic potential of A. affinis CMG 70, an untargeted metabolomics (LC-MS/MS) approach was used. Cultivating the fungus in the presence and absence of sea salt showed that A. affinis CMG 70 metabolite profiles are salt dependent. Analyses of the methanolic crude extract revealed the presence of both unknown and well-known Aspergillus compounds, such as ochratoxin A, anti-viral (e.g., 3,5-Di-tert-butyl-4-hydroxybenzoic acid and epigallocatechin), anti-bacterial (e.g., 3-Hydroxybenzyl alcohol, l-pyroglutamic acid, lecanoric acid), antifungal (e.g., lpyroglutamic acid, 9,12,13-Trihydroxyoctadec-10-enoic acid, hydroxyferulic acid), and chemotherapeutic (e.g., daunomycinone, mitoxantrone) related metabolites. Comparative analysis of 17 genomes from 16 Aspergillus species revealed abundant CAZymes (568 per species), secondary metabolite BGCs (73 per species), and transporters (1359 per species). Some BGCs are highly conserved in this section (e.g., pyranonigrin E and UNII-YC2Q1O94PT (ACR toxin I)), while others are incomplete or completely lost among species (e.g., bikaverin and chaetoglobosins were found exclusively in series Sclerotiorum, while asperlactone seemed completely lost). The results of this study, including genome analysis and metabolome characterization, emphasize the molecular diversity of A. affinis CMG 70, as well as of other species in the section Circumdati.