Department of Botany and Plant Pathology, Oregon State University, Corvallis 97331, U.S.A.
Ptr ToxB, encoded by ToxB, is one of multiple host-selective toxins (HST) produced by the wheat pathogen Pyrenophora tritici-repentis. Homologs of ToxB are found in several ascomycetes, including sister species Pyrenophora bromi, causal agent of brownspot of bromegrass. Due to the close evolutionary relatedness of P. tritici-repentis and P. bromi and that of their grass hosts, we hypothesized that homologs of ToxB in P. bromi may act as HST in the disease interaction between P. bromi and bromegrass. A representative set of transcriptionally active P. bromi ToxB genes were heterologously expressed in Pichia pastoris and the resultant proteins tested for their ability to act as HST on bromegrass. The tested Pyrenophora bromi ToxB (Pb ToxB) proteins were not toxic to bromegrass; thus, Pb ToxB does not appear to function as an HST in the P. bromi–bromegrass interaction. Instead, we revealed that the Pb ToxB proteins can be toxic to Ptr ToxB-sensitive wheat, at levels similar to Ptr ToxB, and the corresponding P. bromi ToxB genes are expressed in P. bromi-inoculated wheat. Our data suggest that P. bromi possesses the potential to become a wheat pathogen and highlights the importance of investigating the interaction between P. bromi and wheat.