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Peroxysomal Carnitine Acetyl Transferase Influences Host Colonization Capacity in Sclerotinia sclerotiorum

July 2013 , Volume 26 , Number  7
Pages  768 - 780

D. Liberti , 1 , 2 J. A. Rollins , 1 and K. F. Dobinson 2 , 3

1Department of Plant Pathology, University of Florida, Gainesville 32611, U.S.A.; 2Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, London, Ontario, N5V 4T3, Canada; 3University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, N6A 5B7, Canada

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Accepted 27 March 2013.

In lower eukaryotes, the glyoxylate cycle allows cells to utilize two-carbon compounds when simple sugars are not available. In filamentous fungi, glyoxylate metabolism is coupled with β-oxidation of fatty acids, and both are localized to ubiquitous eukaryotic organelles called peroxisomes. Acetyl coenzyme A (acetyl-CoA) produced during β-oxidation is transported via the cytosol into mitochondria for further metabolism. A peroxisomal-specific pathway for acetyl-CoA transport requiring peroxisomal carnitine acetyl transferase (CAT) activity has been identified in Magnaporthe grisea peroxisomes. Here, we report that a Sclerotinia sclerotiorum ortholog of the M. grisea peroxisomal CAT-encoding gene Pth2 (herein designated Ss-pth2) is required for virulence-associated host colonization. Null (ss-pth2) mutants, obtained by in vitro transposon mutagenesis, failed to utilize fatty acids, acetate, or glycerol as sole carbon sources for growth. Gene expression analysis of these mutants showed altered levels of transcript accumulation for glyoxylate cycle enzymes. Ss-pth2 disruption also affected sclerotial, apothecial, and appressorial development and morphology, as well as oxalic acid accumulation when cultured with acetate or oleic acid as sole carbon nutrient sources. Although mutants were able to penetrate and initially colonize host tissue, subsequent colonization was impaired. Genetic complementation with the wild-type Ss-pth2 restored wild-type virulence phenotypes. These findings suggest an essential role in S. sclerotiorum for the peroxisomal metabolic pathways for oxalic acid synthesis and host colonization.

This article is in the public domain and not copyrightable. It may be freely reprinted with customary crediting of the source. The American Phytopathological Society, 2013.