New Phytol (Nov 18 2014)
The genus Amanita encompasses both symbiotic, ectomycorrhizal fungi and asymbiotic litter decomposers; all species are derived from asymbiotic ancestors. Symbiotic species are no longer able to degrade plant cell walls. The carbohydrate esterases family 1 (CE1s) is a diverse group of enzymes involved in carbon metabolism, including decomposition and carbon storage. CE1 genes of the ectomycorrhizal A. muscaria appear diverged from all other fungal homologues, and more similar to CE1s of bacteria, suggesting a horizontal gene transfer (HGT) event. In order to test whether AmanitaCE1s were acquired horizontally, we built a phylogeny of CE1s collected from across the tree of life, and describe the evolution of CE1 genes among Amanita and relevant lineages of bacteria. CE1s of symbiotic Amanita were very different from CE1s of asymbiotic Amanita, and are more similar to bacterial CE1s. The protein structure of one CE1 gene of A. muscaria matched a depolymerase that degrades the carbon storage molecule poly((R)-3-hydroxybutyrate) (PHB). Asymbiotic Amanita do not carry sequence or structural homologues of these genes. The CE1s acquired through HGT may enable novel metabolisms, or play roles in signaling or defense. This is the first evidence for the horizontal transfer of carbohydrate metabolism genes into ectomycorrhizal fungi.