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Boxwood blight, a fungal disease of ornamental plants (Buxus spp.), is caused by two sister species, Calonectria pseudonaviculata (Cps) and C. henricotiae (Che). Compared to Cps, Che is documented to display reduced sensitivity to fungicides, including the azole class of antifungals, which block synthesis of a key fungal membrane component, ergosterol. A previous study reported an ergosterol biosynthesis gene in Cps, CYP51A, to be a pseudogene, and RNA-Seq data confirm that a functional CYP51A is expressed only in Che. The lack of additional ergosterol biosynthesis genes showing significant differential expression suggests that the functional CYP51A in Che could contribute to reduced azole sensitivity when compared to Cps. RNA-Seq and bioinformatic analyses found that following azole treatment, 55 genes in Cps, belonging to diverse pathways, displayed a significant decrease in expression. Putative xenobiotic detoxification genes overexpressed in tetraconazole-treated Che encoded predicted monooxygenase and oxidoreductase enzymes. In summary, expression of a functional CYP51A gene and overexpression of predicted xenobiotic detoxification genes appear likely to contribute to differential fungicide sensitivity in these two sister taxa.







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