Evolution of a subtilisin-like protease gene family in the grass endophytic fungus Epichlo festucae

Michelle K. Bryant, Christopher L. Schardl, Uljana Hesse, Barry Scott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Background. Subtilisin-like proteases (SLPs) form a superfamily of enzymes that act to degrade protein substrates. In fungi, SLPs can play either a general nutritive role, or may play specific roles in cell metabolism, or as pathogenicity or virulence factors. Results. Fifteen different genes encoding SLPs were identified in the genome of the grass endophytic fungus Epichlo festucae. Phylogenetic analysis indicated that these SLPs belong to four different subtilisin families: proteinase K, kexin, pyrolysin and subtilisin. The pattern of intron loss and gain is consistent with this phylogeny. E. festucae is exceptional in that it contains two kexin-like genes. Phylogenetic analysis in Hypocreales fungi revealed an extensive history of gene loss and duplication. Conclusion. This study provides new insights into the evolution of the SLP superfamily in filamentous fungi.

Original languageEnglish
Article number168
JournalBMC Evolutionary Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2009

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by grants MAUX0127, C10X0203 and MAU103 to from the New Zealand Foundation for Research, Science and Technology (FRST) and the Royal Society of New Zealand Marsden fund (to Barry Scott), and grants EF-0523661 from the US National Science Foundation (to Christopher Schardl, Mark Farman and Bruce Roe) and 2005-35319-16141 from US Department of Agriculture National Research (to Christopher Schardl), for sequencing of the E. festucae genome. The authors thank Grant Hotter for his initial work on this project, Richard Johnson (AgResearch) for providing the N. lolii kexB nucleotide sequence, and the E. festucae genome sequence consortium (University of Kentucky) for E. festucae E2368 genomic sequence. Special thanks to Bruce Roe (University of Oklahoma) for his assistance with sequencing the E. festucae genome. Michelle Bryant was the recipient of an AGMARDT Doctoral scholarship and supported by contract MAU103.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


Dive into the research topics of 'Evolution of a subtilisin-like protease gene family in the grass endophytic fungus Epichlo festucae'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this