Intimate genetic relationships and fungicide resistance in multiple strains of Aspergillus fumigatus isolated from a plant bulb
Environ Microbiol. 2021 Aug 31. doi: 10.1111/1462-2920.15724. Online ahead of print.
Fungal infections are increasingly dangerous because of environmentally dispersed resistance to antifungal drugs. Azoles are commonly used antifungal drugs, but they are also used as fungicides in agriculture, which may enable enrichment of azole-resistant strains of the human pathogen Aspergillus fumigatus in the environment. Understanding of environmental dissemination and enrichment of genetic variation associated with azole resistance in A. fumigatus is required to suppress resistant strains. Here, we focused on eight strains of azole-resistant A. fumigatus isolated from a single tulip bulb for sale in Japan. This set includes strains with TR34 /L98H/T289A/I364V/G448S and TR46 /Y121F/T289A/S363P/I364V/G448S mutations in the cyp51A gene, which showed higher tolerance to several azoles than strains harbouring TR46 /Y121F/T289A mutation. The strains were typed by microsatellite typing, single nucleotide polymorphism profiles, and mitochondrial and nuclear genome analyses. The strains grouped differently using each typing method, suggesting historical genetic recombination among the strains. Our data also revealed that some strains isolated from the tulip bulb showed tolerance to other classes of fungicides, such as QoI and carbendazim, followed by related amino acid alterations in the target proteins. Considering spatial-temporal factors, plant bulbs are an excellent environmental niche for fungal strains to encounter partners, and to obtain and spread resistance-associated mutations.