The ecologies of fungi and their interactions with
other organisms are partially mediated by the production of biologically active
secondary metabolites including peptides, polyketides, alkaloids and terpenes.
Researchers in my lab have initiated a phylogenomic study of the order
Hypocreales as a model system for understanding evolutionary processes that
function in diversification of secondary metabolism. Data and analyses on
modular nonribosomal peptide synthetases (NRPS) and the homology of their adenylation
domains and biosynthetic gene clusters will be presented. These analyses
reveal complex evolutionary patterns of homologous modules that are distributed
across NRPSs not previously suspected of sharing common ancestry and in fungi
not previously known to harbor these enzymes. This is especially true
among the derived families of the order that include closely related species
that have undergone more recent interkingdom host jumps among insect, fungal
and plant hosts.