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Endopolygalacturonase Is Essential for Citrus Black Rot Caused by Alternaria citri but Not Brown Spot Caused by Alternaria alternata

June 2001 , Volume 14 , Number  6
Pages  749 - 757

Atsunori Isshiki , 1 Kazuya Akimitsu , 2 Mikihiro Yamamoto , 3 and Hiroyuki Yamamoto 2

1United Graduate School of Agricultural Sciences, Kagawa University, Miki, Kagawa 761-0795, Japan; 2Faculty of Agriculture, Department of Life Sciences, Kagawa University, Miki, Kagawa 761-0795, Japan; 3Faculty of Agriculture, Okayama University, Tsushima-naka, Okayama 700-8530, Japan

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Accepted 7 February 2001.

Alternaria citri, the cause of Alternaria black rot, and Alternaria alternata rough lemon pathotype, the cause of Alternaria brown spot, are morphologically indistinguishable pathogens of citrus: one causes rot by macerating tissues and the other causes necrotic spots by producing a host-selective toxin. To evaluate the role of endopolygalacturonase (endoPG) in pathogenicity of these two Alternaria spp. pathogens, their genes for endoPG were mutated by gene targeting. The endoPGs produced by these fungi have similar biochemical properties, and the genes are highly similar (99.6% nucleotide identity). The phenotypes of the mutants, however, are completely different. An endoPG mutant of A. citri was significantly reduced in its ability to cause black rot symptoms on citrus as well as in the maceration of potato tissue and could not colonize citrus peel segments. In contrast, an endoPG mutant of A. alternata was unchanged in pathogenicity. The results indicate that a cell wall-degrading enzyme can play different roles in the pathogenicity of fungal pathogens. The role of a cell wall-degrading enzyme depends upon the type of disease but not the taxonomy of the fungus.

Additional keywords: ACR-toxin, host-specific toxin, pectinase.

© 2001 The American Phytopathological Society