Recent advances in genetic and molecular technologies gradually paved the way for the transition from traditional fungal karyotyping to more comprehensive chromosome biology studies. Extensive chromosomal polymorphisms largely resulting from chromosomal rearrangements (CRs) are widely documented in fungal genomes. These extraordinary CRs in fungi generate substantial genome plasticity compared to other eukaryotic organisms. Here, we review the most recent findings on fungal CRs and their underlying mechanisms and discuss the functional consequences of CRs for adaptation, fungal evolution, host range, and pathogenicity of fungal plant pathogens in the context of chromosome biology. In addition to a complement of permanent chromosomes called core chromosomes, the genomes of many fungal pathogens comprise distinct unstable chromosomes called dispensable chromosomes (DCs) that also contribute to chromosome polymorphisms. Compared to the core chromosomes, the structural features of DCs usually differ for gene density, GC content, housekeeping genes, and recombination frequency. Despite their dispensability for normal growth and development, DCs have important biological roles with respect to pathogenicity in some fungi but not in others. Therefore, their evolutionary origin is also reviewed in relation to overall fungal physiology and pathogenicity.
Annual Review of Phytopathology – Annual Reviews
Published: Aug 4, 2017
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