Laboratory of Plant Pathology, Graduate School of Agriculture, Kyoto University, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto 606-8502, Japan
Both Colletotrichum and Magnaporthe spp. develop appressoria pigmented with melanin, which is essential for fungal pathogenicity. 1,8-Dihydroxynaphthalene (1,8-DHN) is believed to be polymerized to yield melanin around the appresorial cell wall through the oxidative activity of laccases. However, no 1,8-DHN laccase has yet been identified in either Colletotrichum or Magnaporthe spp. Here, we report a laccase gene, LAC2, that is involved in the appressorial melanization of Colletotrichum orbiculare, which causes cucumber anthracnose. LAC2 encodes a protein with a signal peptide and has high homology to fungal laccases. The conidial color of lac2 mutants is distinct from that of the C. orbiculare wild type, and the mutants are nonpathogenic. Notably, the mutant appressoria are defective in melanization, and a host invasion assay showed that the appressoria are nonfunctional. LAC2 was induced during appressorial melanization. These results suggest that LAC2 oxidizes 1,8-DHN in the appressoria. The LAC2 homologues of other fungi located in the same phylogenetic clade as LAC2 fully complemented the lac2 mutants. Interestingly, a LAC2 homologue, located in a different clade, complemented the conidial pigmentation but not appressorial melanization of the mutants, suggesting that the LAC2 function in appressorial melanization might only be conserved in laccases of the LAC2 clade.