Molecular analysis of the anaerobic rumen fungus Orpinomyces - insights into an AT-rich genome

Michael K. Theodorou, Jayne L. Brookman, Matthew J. Nicholson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Citations (SciVal)


The anaerobic gut fungi occupy a unique niche in the intestinal tract of large herbivorous animals and are thought to act as primary colonizers of plant material during digestion. They are the only known obligately anaerobic fungi but molecular analysis of this group has been hampered by difficulties in their culture and manipulation, and by their extremely high A+T nucleotide content. This study begins to answer some of the fundamental questions about the structure and organization of the anaerobic gut fungal genome. Directed plasmid libraries using genomic DNA digested with highly or moderately rich AT-specific restriction enzymes (VspI and EcoRI) were prepared from a polycentric Orpinomyces isolate. Clones were sequenced from these libraries and the breadth of genomic inserts, both genic and intergenic, was characterized. Genes encoding numerous functions not previously characterized for these fungi were identified, including cytoskeletal, secretory pathway and transporter genes. A peptidase gene with no introns and having sequence similarity to a gene encoding a bacterial peptidase was also identified, extending the range of metabolic enzymes resulting from apparent trans-kingdom transfer from bacteria to fungi, as previously characterized largely for genes encoding plant-degrading enzymes. This paper presents the first thorough analysis of the genic, intergenic and rDNA regions of a variety of genomic segments from an anaerobic gut fungus and provides observations on rules governing intron boundaries, the codon biases observed with different types of genes, and the sequence of only the second anaerobic gut fungal promoter reported. Large numbers of retrotransposon sequences of different types were found and the authors speculate on the possible consequences of any such transposon activity in the genome. The coding sequences identified included several orphan gene sequences, including one with regions strongly suggestive of structural proteins such as collagens and lampirin. This gene was present as a single copy in Orpinomyces, was expressed during vegetative growth and was also detected in genomes from another gut fungal genus, Neocallimastix.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)121-133
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 06 Jan 2005


Dive into the research topics of 'Molecular analysis of the anaerobic rumen fungus Orpinomyces - insights into an AT-rich genome'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this