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SOD1-Targeted Gene Disruption in the Ericoid Mycorrhizal Fungus Oidiodendron maius Reduces Conidiation and the Capacity for Mycorrhization

November 2009 , Volume 22 , Number  11
Pages  1,412 - 1,421

S. Abbà,1 H. R. Khouja,1 E. Martino,1 D. B. Archer,2 and S. Perotto1

1Dipartimento di Biologia Vegetale dell'Università degli Studi di Torino, Viale Mattioli 25, 10125 Torino, Italy; 2School of Biology, University of Nottingham, University Park, Nottingham NG7 2RD, U.K.

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Accepted 29 May 2009.

The genome sequences of mycorrhizal fungi will provide new opportunities for studying the biology and the evolution underlying this symbiotic lifestyle. The generation of null mutants at the wild-type loci is one of the best methods for gene-function assignment in the post-genomic era. To our knowledge, the generation of superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1)-null mutants in the ericoid mycorrhizal fungus Oidiodendron maius is the first example of a gene-targeted disruption via homologous recombination in a mycorrhizal fungus. The disruption of OmSOD1 by Agrobacterium-mediated transformation resulted in the presence of oxidative stress markers, even in the absence of external superimposed stresses, and an increased sensitivity to reactive oxygen species (ROS)-generating substances, especially to menadione. A reduction in conidiation and in the percentage of mycorrhization of Vaccinium myrtillus roots was also observed. The latter findings establish the pivotal role of SOD1 as an important factor in the relationship between O. maius and its symbiotic partner. The lack of this ROS-scavenger may cause an imbalance in the redox homeostasis during host colonization and an alteration in the delicate dialogue between the fungus and its host plant.

© 2009 The American Phytopathological Society