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pH Regulation of Ammonia Secretion by Colletotrichum gloeosporioides and Its Effect on Appressorium Formation and Pathogenicity

March 2010 , Volume 23 , Number  3
Pages  304 - 316

Itay Miyara,1,3 Hadas Shafran,2 Maayan Davidzon,1 Amir Sherman,2 and Dov Prusky1

1Department of Postharvest Science of Fresh Produce and 2Department of Genomics, Agricultural Research Organization, the Volcani Center, Bet Dagan 50250; 3The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, The Robert H. Smith Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Environment, Rehovot 76100, Israel

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Accepted 22 October 2009.

Host-tissue alkalinization via ammonia accumulation is key to Colletotrichum spp. colonization. Using macroarrays carrying C. gloeosporioides cDNAs, we monitored gene expression during the alkalinization process. A set of genes involved in synthesis and catabolism of ammonia accumulation were identified. Expression of NAD+-specific glutamate dehydrogenase (GDH2, encoding ammonia synthesis) and the ammonia exporter AMET were induced at pH 4.0 to 4.5. Conversely, ammonia uptake and transcript activation of the ammonia and glutamate importers (MEP and GLT, respectively) and glutamine synthase (GS1) were higher at pH 6.0 to 7.0. Accumulated ammonia in the wild-type mycelium decreased during ambient alkalinization, concurrent with increased GS1 expression. Δpac1 mutants of C. gloeosporioides, which are sensitive to alkaline pH changes, showed upregulation of the acid-expressed GDH2 and downregulation of the alkaline-expressed GS1, resulting in 60% higher ammonia accumulation inside the mycelium. Δgdh2 strains of C. gloeosporioides, impaired in ammonia production, showed 85% inhibition in appressorium formation followed by reduced colonization on avocado fruit (Persea americana cv. Fuerte) pericarp, while exogenic ammonia addition restored appressoria formation. Thus the modulation of genes involved in ammonia metabolism and catabolism by C. gloeosporioides is ambient pH--dependent. Aside from its contribution to necrotrophic stages, ammonia accumulation by germinating spores regulates appressorium formation and determines the initiation of biotrophic stages of avocado-fruit colonization by Colletotrichum spp.

The American Phytopathological Society, 2010