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The cAMP-PKA Pathway Regulates Growth, Sexual and Asexual Differentiation, and Pathogenesis in Fusarium graminearum

June 2014 , Volume 27 , Number  6
Pages  557 - 566

Shuai Hu,1 Xiaoying Zhou,2 Xiaoying Gu,1 Shulin Cao,1 Chengfang Wang,1 and Jin-Rong Xu2

1State Key Laboratory of Crop Stress Biology for Arid Areas, College of Plant Protection, Northwest A&F University, Yangling, Shanxi, China; 2Department of Botany and Plant Pathology, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN, U.S.A.

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Accepted 14 January 2014.

Like many other filamentous ascomycetes, Fusarium graminearum contains two genes named CPK1 and CPK2 that encode the catalytic subunits of cyclic AMP (cAMP)-dependent protein kinase A (PKA). To determine the role of cAMP signaling in pathogenesis and development in F. graminearum, we functionally characterized these two genes. In addition, we generated and characterized the cpk1 cpk2 double and fac1 adenylate cyclase gene deletion mutants. The cpk1 mutant was significantly reduced in vegetative growth, conidiation, and deoxynivalenol production but it had increased tolerance to elevated temperatures. It was defective in the production of penetration branches on plant surfaces, colonization of wheat rachises, and spreading in flowering wheat heads. Deletion of CPK1 had no effect on perithecium development but the cpk1 mutant was defective in ascospore maturation and releasing. In contrast, the cpk2 mutant had no detectable phenotypes, suggesting that CPK2 contributes minimally to PKA activities in F. graminearum. Nevertheless, the cpk1 cpk2 double mutant had more severe defects in vegetative growth and rarely produced morphologically abnormal conidia. The double mutant, unlike the cpk1 or cpk2 mutant, was nonpathogenic and failed to form perithecia on self-mating plates. Therefore, CPK1 and CPK2 must have overlapping functions in vegetative growth, differentiation, and plant infection in F. graminearum. The fac1 mutant was also nonpathogenic and had growth defects similar to those of the cpk1 cpk2 mutant. However, deletion of FAC1 had no effect on conidium morphology. These results indicated that CPK1 is the major PKA catalytic subunit gene and that the cAMP-PKA pathway plays critical roles in hyphal growth, conidiation, ascosporogenesis, and plant infection in F. graminearum.

© 2014 The American Phytopathological Society