Primary metabolism affects all phenotypical traits of filamentous fungi. Particular examples include reacting to extracellular stimuli, producing precursor molecules required for cell division and morphological changes as well as providing monomer building blocks for production of secondary metabolites and extracellular enzymes. In this review, all annotated genes from four Aspergillus species have been examined. In this process, it becomes evident that 80-96% of the genes (depending on the species) are still without verified function. A significant proportion of the genes with verified metabolic functions are assigned to secondary or extracellular metabolism, leaving only 2-4% of the annotated genes within primary metabolism. It is clear that primary metabolism has not received the same attention in the post-genomic area as many other research areas-despite its role at the very centre of cellular function. However, several methods can be employed to use the metabolic networks in tandem with comparative genomics to accelerate functional assignment of genes in primary metabolism. In particular, gaps in metabolic pathways can be used to assign functions to orphan genes. In this review, applications of this from the Aspergillus genes will be examined, and it is proposed that, where feasible, this should be a standard part of functional annotation of fungal genomes.
Briefings in Functional Genomics, 2014, Vol 13, Issue 6, p. 451-455