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Inactivation of the Lipoxygenase ZmLOX3 Increases Susceptibility of Maize to Aspergillus spp.

February 2009 , Volume 22 , Number  2
Pages  222 - 231

Xiquan Gao,1 Marion Brodhagen,2 Tom Isakeit,1 Sigal Horowitz Brown,2 Cornelia Göbel,3 Javier Betran,4 Ivo Feussner,3 Nancy P. Keller,2 and Michael V. Kolomiets1

1Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology, Texas A&M University, 2132 TAMU, College Station, TX, 77843-2132, U.S.A.; 2Departments of Plant Pathology and Medical Microbiology and Immunology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1550 Linden Dr., Madison, WI 53706-1598, U.S.A.; 3Department of Plant Biochemistry, Georg-August-University, Göttingen, Justus-von-Liebig-Weg 11, D-37077 Göttingen, Germany; 4Department of Soil and Crop Sciences, Corn Breeding and Genetics, Texas A&M University

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Accepted 17 October 2008.

Plant and fungal lipoxygenases (LOX) catalyze the oxidation of polyunsaturated fatty acids, creating fatty-acid hydroperoxides (oxylipins). Fungal oxylipins are required for normal fungal development and secondary metabolism, and plant host--derived oxylipins interfere with these processes in fungi, presumably by signal mimicry. The maize LOX gene ZmLOX3 has been implicated previously in seed-Aspergillus interactions, so we tested the interactions of a mutant maize line (lox3-4, in which ZmLOX3 is disrupted) with the mycotoxigenic seed-infecting fungi Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus nidulans. The lox3-4 mutant was more susceptible than wild-type maize to both Aspergillus species. All strains of A. flavus and A. nidulans produced more conidia and aflatoxin (or the precursor sterigmatocystin) on lox3-4 kernels than on wild-type kernels, in vitro and under field conditions. Although oxylipins did not differ detectably between A. flavus--infected kernels of the lox3-4 and wild-type (WT) maize, oxylipin precursors (free fatty acids) and a downstream metabolite (jasmonic acid) accumulated to greater levels in lox3-4 than in WT kernels. The increased resistance of the lox3-4 mutant to other fungal pathogens (Fusarium, Colletotrichum, Cochliobolus, and Exserohilum spp.) is in sharp contrast to results described herein for Aspergillus spp., suggesting that outcomes of LOX-governed host-pathogen interactions are pathogen-specific.

Additional keywords:9S-HPODE, Fusarium verticillioides.

© 2009 The American Phytopathological Society