Secondary Metabolism Gene Cluster families in Aspergilli

Secondary metabolism is the basis of chemical defense, virulence, toxicity, mineral uptake and communication in fungi [Fox2008]. For our society, fungal secondary metabolites show a broad spectrum of applications, such as antibiotics, the most known being penicillin. Understanding the evolution and dynamics of genes involved in secondary metabolism will help to provide new antibiotics to fight antibiotic resistances. Here you can investigate the wide range of secondary metabolism gene clusters based on their backbone enzyme type. Follow the link below to perform analysis that shows how gene clusters can be grouped together into families, and how these families are distributed across phylogeny.

ANALYSIS – Gene Cluster families in Aspergilli

treeSecondary metabolites are produced by a sequence of co-located genes arranged in so-called Secondary Metabolic Gene Clusters (SMGC) [Hoffmeister2007, Bushley2010, Osbourn2010]. In this cluster, one or more genes are involved in the synthesizes of the initial molecule, called the metabolite backbone, which is then modified by enzymes encoded by the other genes in the cluster, called tailoring enzymes. The structure of these SMGCs is diverse, ranging from one backbone and two tailoring enzymes for penicillin, to four backbone genes and 21 tailoring enzymes for aflatoxin [Osbourne2010, Hoffmeister2007]. Prediction algorithms such as SMURF [Khaldi2009] and Antismash [Medema2011] identify these co-located genes using whole genome sequences by identifying possible backbones and tailoring enzyme genes using Hidden Markov Models.


Secondary metabolism varies greatly in different organisms and following the link below you can compare the phylogenetic distance between organisms to the difference in their secondary metabolism gene cluster profile. You can also inspect the different gene cluster types that are shared and view a map of how many gene clusters are shared among a set of Aspergilli species.


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