An interpreted atlas of biosynthetic gene clusters from 1,000 fungal genomes

Matthew T. Robey, Lindsay K. Caesar, Milton T. Drott, Nancy P. Keller, Neil L. Kelleher*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Fungi are prolific producers of natural products, compounds which have had a large societal impact as pharmaceuticals, mycotoxins, and agrochemicals. Despite the availability of over 1,000 fungal genomes and several decades of compound discovery efforts from fungi, the biosynthetic gene clusters (BGCs) encoded by these genomes and the associated chemical space have yet to be analyzed systematically. Here, we provide detailed annotation and analyses of fungal biosynthetic and chemical space to enable genome mining and discovery of fungal natural products. Using 1,037 genomes from species across the fungal kingdom (e.g., Ascomycota, Basidiomycota, and non-Dikarya taxa), 36,399 predicted BGCs were organized into a network of 12,067 gene cluster families (GCFs). Anchoring these GCFs with reference BGCs enabled automated annotation of 2,026 BGCs with predicted metabolite scaffolds. We performed parallel analyses of the chemical repertoire of fungi, organizing 15,213 fungal compounds into 2,945 molecular families (MFs). The taxonomic landscape of fungal GCFs is largely species specific, though select families such as the equisetin GCF are present across vast phylogenetic distances with parallel diversifications in the GCF and MF. We compare these fungal datasets with a set of 5,453 bacterial genomes and their BGCs and 9,382 bacterial compounds, revealing dramatic differences between bacterial and fungal biosynthetic logic and chemical space. These genomics and cheminformatics analyses reveal the large extent to which fungal and bacterial sources represent distinct compound reservoirs. With a >10- fold increase in the number of interpreted strains and annotated BGCs, this work better regularizes the biosynthetic potential of fungi for rational compound discovery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2020230118
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number19
StatePublished - May 11 2021


  • Biosynthesis
  • Fungi
  • Genome mining
  • Natural products
  • Secondary metabolism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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