In the fungus where it happens: History and future propelling Aspergillus nidulans as the archetype of natural products research

Lindsay K. Caesar, Neil L. Kelleher, Nancy P. Keller*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations

Abstract

In 1990 the first fungal secondary metabolite biosynthetic gene was cloned in Aspergillus nidulans. Thirty years later, >30 biosynthetic gene clusters (BGCs) have been linked to specific natural products in this one fungal species. While impressive, over half of the BGCs in A. nidulans remain uncharacterized and their compounds structurally and functionally unknown. Here, we provide a comprehensive review of past advances that have enabled A. nidulans to rise to its current status as a natural product powerhouse focusing on the discovery and annotation of secondary metabolite clusters. From genome sequencing, heterologous expression, and metabolomics to CRISPR and epigenetic manipulations, we present a guided tour through the evolution of technologies developed and utilized in the last 30 years. These insights provide perspective to future efforts to fully unlock the biosynthetic potential of A. nidulans and, by extension, the potential of other filamentous fungi.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number103477
JournalFungal Genetics and Biology
Volume144
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2020

Keywords

  • Aspergillus nidulans
  • Bioinformatics
  • Biosynthesis
  • Genomics
  • Historical perspective
  • Molecular biology
  • Natural products

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Genetics

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