The transcriptomic profile of Pseudozyma aphidis during production of mannosylerythritol lipids
The basidiomycetous fungus Pseudozyma aphidis is able to convert vegetable oils to abundant amounts of the biosurfactant mannosylerythritol lipid (MEL) with a unique product pattern of MEL-A, MEL-B, MEL-C, and MEL-D. To investigate the metabolism of MEL production, we analyzed the transcriptome of P. aphidis DSM 70725 under MEL-inducing and non-inducing conditions using deep sequencing. Following manual curation of the previously described in silico gene models based on RNA-Seq data, we were able to generate an experimentally verified gene annotation containing 6347 genes. Using this database, our expression analysis revealed that only four of the five cluster genes required for MEL synthesis were clearly induced by the presence of soybean oil. The acetyltransferase encoding gene PaGMAT1 was expressed on a much lower level, which may explain the secretion of MEL with different degrees of acetylation in P. aphidis. In parallel to MEL synthesis, microscopic observations showed morphological changes accompanied by expression of genes responsible for cell development, indicative of a coregulation between MEL synthesis and cell morphology. In addition a set of transcription factors was identified which may be responsible for regulation of MEL synthesis and cell development. The upregulation of genes required for nitrogen metabolism and other assimilation processes indicate additional metabolic pathways required under the MEL-inducing conditions used. We also searched for a conserved gene cluster for cellobiose lipids (CL) but only found seven genes with limited homology distributed over the genome. However, we detected characteristic TLC spots in fermentations using P. aphidis DSM 70725, indicative of CL secretion.