Telomere-to-Telomere Genome Sequences across a Single Genus Reveal Highly Variable Chromosome Rearrangement Rates but Absolute Stasis of Chromosome Number
Genome rearrangements in filamentous fungi are prevalent but little is known about the modalities of their evolution, in part because few complete genomes are available within a single genus. To address this, we have generated and compared 15 complete telomere-to-telomere genomes across the phylogeny of a single genus of filamentous fungi, Epichloë. We find that the striking distinction between gene-rich and repeat-rich regions previously reported for isolated species is ubiquitous across the Epichloë genus. We built a species phylogeny from single-copy gene orthologs to provide a comparative framing to study chromosome composition and structural change through evolutionary time. All Epichloë genomes have exactly seven nuclear chromosomes, but despite this conserved ploidy, analyses reveal low synteny and substantial rearrangement of gene content across the genus. These rearrangements are highly lineage-dependent, with most occurring over short evolutionary distances, with long periods of structural stasis. Quantification of chromosomal rearrangements shows they are uncorrelated with numbers of substitutions and evolutionary distances, suggesting that different modes of evolution are acting to create nucleotide and chromosome-scale changes.