Evolution within the fungal genus Verticillium is characterized by chromosomal rearrangement and gene loss
The fungal genus Verticillium contains ten species, some of which are notorious plant pathogens causing vascular wilt diseases in host plants, while others are known as saprophytes and opportunistic plant pathogens. Whereas the genome of V. dahliae, the most notorious plant pathogen of the genus, has been well characterized, evolution and speciation of other members of the genus received little attention thus far. Here, we sequenced the genomes of the nine haploid Verticillium spp. to study evolutionary trajectories of their divergence from a last common ancestor. Frequent occurrence of chromosomal rearrangement and gene family loss was identified. In addition to ˜11 000 genes that are shared at least between two species, only 200–600 species-specific genes occur. Intriguingly, these species-specific genes show different features than the shared genes.