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Identification of atypical chitin synthase genes horizontally transferred in plant pathogens

Mathias Choquer: University Lyon 1

<div>Chitin, the second most abundant biopolymer on earth after cellulose, is found in probably all fungi, many animals (mainly invertebrates), several protists and a few algae, playing an essential role in the development of many of them. It is produced by type 2 glycosyltransferases, called chitin synthases (CHS). In phytopathogenic fungi, several CHS isoenzymes are found and they are not only thought to be essential for their growth but they are also considered to participate as determinants of their pathogenicity . We performed a genome-wide analysis and detected more than 800 putative CHS in proteomes associated with about 130 genomes. Phylogenetic analyses allowed us to propose a robust and unifying fungal CHS classification that is easily accessible through a dedicated website (<a rel="noopener" target="_blank" href=""></a>). Concerning the evolutionary history of CHS, this family has mainly evolved via duplications and losses. However, it is likely that several horizontal gene transfers (HGT) also occurred in eukaryotic microorganisms and, even more surprisingly, in the genomes of bacteria and viruses. Interestingly, many of these horizontally acquired CHS are found in plant pathogens, bacteria or fungi. Whether these atipycal CHS activities can represent new virulence factors implied in plant interactions will be discussed in the poster.</div>