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Ornithine Decarboxylase Knockout in Tapesia yallundae Abolishes Infection Plaque Formation In Vitro but Does Not Reduce Virulence Toward Wheat

November 2001 , Volume 14 , Number  11
Pages  1,303 - 1,311

E. Mueller , 1 A. Bailey , 2 A. Corran , 1 A. J. Michael , 3 and P. Bowyer 4

1Zeneca Agrochemicals, Jeallots Hill, Berkshire, U.K.; 2Department of Biological Sciences, University of Bristol, Bristol, U.K.; 3Institute of Food Research, Colney Lane, Norwich, U.K.; 4IACR-Long Ashton Research Station, Department of Agricultural Sciences, University of Bristol, Long Ashton, Bristol BS41 9AF, U.K.

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Accepted 5 July 2001.

A knockout strain of Tapesia yallundae lacking the single ornithine decarboxylase (ODC) allele has been created by targeted gene replacement. A central region of the ODC gene was isolated by polymerase chain reaction with degenerate oligonucleotides and used to probe a lambda genomic library. The gene was sequenced, and the encoded ODC protein sequence was shown to be similar to those from other fungi. The functionality of the T. yallundae ODC was confirmed by complementation of an Aspergillus nidulans mutant (puA) strain devoid of ODC activity, restoring growth in the absence of exogenous polyamines. Transformation-mediated gene replacement was used to create strains that were auxotrophic for putrescine and lack ODC coding sequences. ODC knockout strains were unable to differentiate infection structures after in vitro induction and showed an abnormal hyphal branching phenotype. Pathogenicity studies on these mutants showed that, surprisingly, they are not reduced in virulence compared with nondisrupted transformants. This suggests that the strains carrying an ODC disruption can obtain sufficient polyamines from the host plant for normal growth and differentiation and, therefore, that fungal ODC may not be a suitable target for fungicides.

© 2001 The American Phytopathological Society