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The BMP1 Gene Is Essential for Pathogenicity in the Gray Mold Fungus Botrytis cinerea

July 2000 , Volume 13 , Number  7
Pages  724 - 732

Li Zheng , Mathew Campbell , Jennifer Murphy , Stephen Lam , and Jin-Rong Xu

Novartis Agribusiness Biotechnology Research Inc., 3054 Cornwallis Road, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709, U.S.A.

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Accepted 14 March 2000.

In Magnaporthe grisea, a well-conserved mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase gene, PMK1, is essential for fungal pathogenesis. In this study, we tested whether the same MAP kinase is essential for plant infection in the gray mold fungus Botrytis cinerea, a necrotrophic pathogen that employs infection mechanisms different from those of M. grisea. We used a polymerase chain reaction-based approach to isolate MAP kinase homologues from B. cinerea. The Botrytis MAP kinase required for pathogenesis (BMP) MAP kinase gene is highly homologous to the M. grisea PMK1. BMP1 is a single-copy gene. bmp1 gene replacement mutants produced normal conidia and mycelia but were reduced in growth rate on nutrient-rich medium. bmp1 mutants were nonpathogenic on carnation flowers and tomato leaves. Re-introduction of the wild-type BMP1 allele into the bmp1 mutant restored both normal growth rate and pathogenicity. Further studies indicated that conidia from bmp1 mutants germinated on plant surfaces but failed to penetrate and macerate plant tissues. bmp1 mutants also appeared to be defective in infecting through wounds. These results indicated that BMP1 is essential for plant infection in B. cinerea, and this MAP kinase pathway may be widely conserved in pathogenic fungi for regulating infection processes.

Additional keywords: Botryotinia fuckeliana, MAPK.

© 2000 The American Phytopathological Society