Fungal-fungal cocultivation leads to widespread secondary metabolite alteration requiring the partial loss-of-function VeA1 protein
Sci Adv. 2022 Apr 29;8(17):eabo6094. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.abo6094. Epub 2022 Apr 27.
Microbial communication has attracted notable attention as an indicator of microbial interactions that lead to marked alterations of secondary metabolites (SMs) in varied environments. However, the mechanisms responsible for SM regulation are not fully understood, especially in fungal-fungal interactions. Here, cocultivation of an endophytic fungus Epicoccum dendrobii with the model fungus Aspergillus nidulans and several other filamentous fungi triggered widespread alteration of SMs. Multiple silent biosynthetic gene clusters in A. nidulans were activated by transcriptome and metabolome analysis. Unprecedentedly, gene deletion and replacement proved that a partial loss-of-function VeA1 protein, but not VeA, was associated with the widespread SM changes in both A. nidulans and A. fumigatus during cocultivation. VeA1 regulation required the transcription factor SclB and the velvet complex members LaeA and VelB for producing aspernidines as representative formation of SMs in A. nidulans. This study provides new insights into the mechanism that trigger metabolic changes during fungal-fungal interactions.