Trichoderma reesei (Ascomycota, Pezizomycotina) QM6a is a model fungus for a broad spectrum of physiological phenomena, including plant cell wall degradation, industrial production of enzymes, light responses, conidiation, sexual development, polyketide biosynthesis, and plant-fungal interactions. The genomes of QM6a and its high enzyme-producing mutants have been sequenced by second-generation-sequencing methods and are publicly available from the Joint Genome Institute. While these genome sequences have offered useful information for genomic and transcriptomic studies, their limitations and especially their short read lengths make them poorly suited for some particular biological problems, including assembly, genome-wide determination of chromosome architecture, and genetic modification or engineering.
We integrated Pacific Biosciences and Illumina sequencing platforms for the highest-quality genome assembly yet achieved, revealing seven telomere-to-telomere chromosomes (34,922,528 bp; 10877 genes) with 1630 newly predicted genes and >1.5 Mb of new sequences. Most new sequences are located on AT-rich blocks, including 7 centromeres, 14 subtelomeres, and 2329 interspersed AT-rich blocks. The seven QM6a centromeres separately consist of 24 conserved repeats and 37 putative centromere-encoded genes. These findings open up a new perspective for future centromere and chromosome architecture studies. Next, we demonstrate that sexual crossing readily induced cytosine-to-thymine point mutations on both tandem and unlinked duplicated sequences. We also show by bioinformatic analysis that T. reesei has evolved a robust repeat-induced point mutation (RIP) system to accumulate AT-rich sequences, with longer AT-rich blocks having more RIP mutations. The widespread distribution of AT-rich blocks correlates genome-wide partitions with gene clusters, explaining why clustering of genes has been reported to not influence gene expression in T. reesei.
Compartmentation of ancestral gene clusters by AT-rich blocks might promote flexibilities that are evolutionarily advantageous in this fungus' soil habitats and other natural environments. Our analyses, together with the complete genome sequence, provide a better blueprint for biotechnological and industrial applications.