Nat Commun 11(1) , 1106 (Feb 27 2020)
Section Flavi encompasses both harmful and beneficial Aspergillus species, such as Aspergillus oryzae, used in food fermentation and enzyme production, and Aspergillus flavus, food spoiler and mycotoxin producer. Here, we sequence 19 genomes spanning section Flavi and compare 31 fungal genomes including 23 Flavi species. We reassess their phylogenetic relationships and show that the closest relative of A. oryzae is not A. flavus, but A. minisclerotigenes or A. aflatoxiformans and identify high genome diversity, especially in sub-telomeric regions. We predict abundant CAZymes (598 per species) and prolific secondary metabolite gene clusters (73 per species) in section Flavi. However, the observed phenotypes (growth characteristics, polysaccharide degradation) do not necessarily correlate with inferences made from the predicted CAZyme content. Our work, including genomic analyses, phenotypic assays, and identification of secondary metabolites, highlights the genetic and metabolic diversity within section Flavi.