Wood sapstain, a cosmetic defect that results in significant economical loss to forest-products industries, is caused by mycelial melanization of the wood-colonizing ophiostomatoid fungi. To improve our understanding of how melanin biosynthesis is regulated in the cosmopolitan sapstaining fungus, Ophiostoma piceae, we used insertional mutagenesis. Insertional mutants were generated by restriction enzyme-mediated integration (REMI) and Agrobacterium-mediated integration (AMI). We screened 1,053 REMI and 1,083 AMI transformants and found 30 mutants with impaired growth or pigmentation. We characterized four AMI transformants in more detail, in which the T-DNA integrated at a single locus. The albino mutant TOPA45 had incorporated the T-DNA in a polyketide synthase gene (PKS1). The mutants TOPA1 and TOPA1076 displayed reduced pigmentation. In TOPA1, the T-DNA was inserted into a gene that encodes a putative protein kinase activator whereas, for TOPA1076, it was inserted into a gene that encodes a protein with unknown function. Finally, the vegetative hyphae of mutant TOPA814 were not melanized, whereas the synnemata displayed the same level of pigmentation as the wild type. In the TOPA814 mutant, segregation analysis revealed that the mutant phenotype was not linked to the T-DNA insertion locus but to a translocation from the PIG1 locus to the left border of the T-DNA. The protein predicted for the PIG1 locus had a middle homology region that was specific to fungal transcription factors.
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