Trichoderma harzianum transcriptome in response to cadmium exposure

Fungal Genet Biol. 2020 Jan;134:103281. doi: 10.1016/j.fgb.2019.103281. Epub 2019 Oct 15.


Cadmium (Cd) is a heavy metal present in the environment mainly as a result of industrial contamination that can cause toxic effects to life. Some microorganisms, as Trichoderma harzianum, a fungus used in biocontrol, are able to survive in polluted environments and act as bioremediators. Aspects about the tolerance to the metal have been widely studied in other fungi although there are a few reports about the response of T. harzianum. In this study, we determined the effects of cadmium over growth of T. harzianum and used RNA-Seq to identify significant genes and processes regulated in the metal presence. Cadmium inhibited the fungus growth proportionally to its concentration although the fungus exhibited tolerance as it continued to grow, even in the highest concentrations used. A total of 3767 (1993 up and 1774 down) and 2986 (1606 up and 1380 down) differentially expressed genes were detected in the mycelium of T. harzianum cultivated in the presence of 1.0 mg mL-1 or 2.0 mg mL-1 of CdCl2, respectively, compared to the absence of the metal. Of these, 2562 were common to both treatments. Biological processes related to cellular homeostasis, transcription initiation, sulfur compound biosynthetic and metabolic processes, RNA processing, protein modification and vesicle-mediated transport were up-regulated. Carbohydrate metabolic processes were down-regulated. Pathway enrichment analysis indicated induction of glutathione and its precursor's metabolism. Interestingly, it also indicated an intense transcriptional induction, especially by up-regulation of spliceosome components. Carbohydrate metabolism was repressed, especially the mycoparasitism-related genes, suggesting that the mycoparasitic ability of T. harzianum could be affected during cadmium exposure. These results contribute to the advance of the current knowledge about the response of T. harzianum to cadmium exposure and provide significant targets for biotechnological improvement of this fungus as a bioremediator and a biocontrol agent.

Keywords: Cadmium; Mycoparasitism; Splicing; Transcriptome; Trichoderma harzianum.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Cadmium / pharmacology*
  • Carbohydrate Metabolism / genetics
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Fungal / drug effects*
  • Genes, Fungal*
  • Hypocreales / drug effects*
  • Hypocreales / genetics*
  • Hypocreales / growth & development
  • Mycelium / drug effects
  • Mycelium / genetics
  • Mycelium / growth & development
  • Protein Modification, Translational / drug effects
  • RNA Processing, Post-Transcriptional / drug effects
  • Spliceosomes / drug effects
  • Transcriptome / drug effects*


  • Cadmium

Supplementary concepts

  • Trichoderma harzianum