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Genetic Dissection Defines the Roles of Elsinochrome Phytotoxin for Fungal Pathogenesis and Conidiation of the Citrus Pathogen Elsinoë fawcettii

April 2008 , Volume 21 , Number  4
Pages  469 - 479

Hui-Ling Liao and Kuang-Ren Chung

Citrus Research and Education Center, and Department of Plant Pathology, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS), University of Florida, 700 Experiment Station Rd., Lake Alfred 33850, U.S.A.

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Accepted 6 December 2007.

Elsinochrome pigments produced by many phytopathogenic Elsinoë spp. are nonhost-selective toxins which react with oxygen molecules after light activation to produce highly toxic reactive oxygen species. The structures and chemical properties of four derivatives are well known. However, the biological roles of elsinochromes in fungal pathogenesis are poorly understood. Many isolates of Elsinoë fawcettii causing citrus scab are able to produce elsinochromes under axenic conditions. In this article, we report the cloning, expression, and functional characterization of the polyketide synthase-encoding gene, EfPKS1, which we show is required for the production of elsinochromes and fungal pathogenesis. Targeted disruption of EfPKS1 in E.fawcettii completely abrogated elsinochrome production, drastically reduced conidiation, and significantly decreased lesion formation on rough lemon leaves. All mutant phenotypes were restored to the wild type in fungal strains expressing a functional copy of EfPKS1. Accumulation of the EfPKS1 transcript and elsinochromes by a wild-type strain appears to be coordinately regulated by light, nutrients, and pH. The results indicate that the product of EfPKS1 is involved in the biosynthesis of elsinochromes via a fungal polyketide pathway, and that elsinochromes play an important role in fungal pathogenesis.

Additional keywords:perylenequinone, photosensitizers, split marker, targeted gene disruption

© 2008 The American Phytopathological Society