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ELP3 Is Involved in Sexual and Asexual Development, Virulence, and the Oxidative Stress Response in Fusarium graminearum

December 2014 , Volume 27 , Number  12
Pages  1,344 - 1,355

Yoonji Lee,1 Kyunghun Min,1 Hokyoung Son,1 Ae Ran Park,1 Jin-Cheol Kim,2 Gyung Ja Choi,2 and Yin-Won Lee1

1Department of Agricultural Biotechnology and Center for Fungal Pathogenesis, Seoul National University, Seoul 151-921, Republic of Korea; 2Eco-friendly New Materials Research Group, Research Center for Biobased Chemistry, Division of Convergence Chemistry, Korea Research Institute of Chemical Technology, Daejeon 305-343, Republic of Korea

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Accepted 22 July 2014.

Fusarium graminearum is an important fungal plant pathogen that causes serious losses in cereal crop yields and mycotoxicoses in humans and livestock. In this study, we characterized an insertion mutant, Z39R9282, with pleiotropic defects in sexual development and virulence. We determined that the insertion occurred in a gene encoding an ortholog of yeast elongator complex protein 3 (ELP3). Deletion of elp3 led to significant defects in sexual and asexual development in F. graminearum. In the elp3 deletion mutant, the number of perithecia formed was reduced and maturation of perithecia was delayed. This mutant also produced morphologically abnormal ascospores and conidia. Histone acetylation in the elp3 deletion mutant was reduced compared with the wild type, which likely caused the developmental defects. Trichothecenes were not produced at detectable levels, and expression of trichothecene biosynthesis genes were significantly reduced in the elp3 deletion mutant. Infection of wheat heads revealed that the elp3 deletion mutant was unable to spread from inoculated florets to neighboring spikelets. Furthermore, the elp3 deletion mutant was more sensitive to oxidative stress than the wild type, and the expression of putative catalase genes was reduced. We demonstrate that elp3 functions in sexual and asexual development, virulence, and the oxidative stress response of F. graminearum by regulating the expression of genes involved in these various developmental processes.

© 2014 The American Phytopathological Society