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Identification of a 12-Gene Fusaric Acid Biosynthetic Gene Cluster in Fusarium Species Through Comparative and Functional Genomics

March 2015 , Volume 28 , Number  3
Pages  319 - 332

Daren W. Brown,1 Seung-Ho Lee,2 Lee-Han Kim,3 Jae-Gee Ryu,3 Soohyung Lee,3 Yunhee Seo,4 Young Ho Kim,4 Mark Busman,1 Sung-Hwan Yun,5 Robert H. Proctor,1 and Theresa Lee3

1Bacterial Foodborne Pathogens and Mycology Research, USDA-ARS-NCAUR, 1815 N. University St., Peoria, Illinois 61604, U.S.A.; 2Ginseng Research Division, National Institute of Horticultural & Herbal Science, Rural Development Administration, Eumseong 369-873, Republic of Korea; 3Microbial Safety Team, National Academy of Agricultural Science, Rural Development Administration, Wanju 565-851, Republic of Korea; 4Department of Agricultural Biotechnology and Research Institute for Agriculture and Life Sciences, Seoul National University, Seoul 151-921, Republic of Korea; 5Department of Medical Biotechnology, Soonchunhyang University, Asan 336-745, Republic of Korea

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Accepted 24 October 2014.

In fungi, genes involved in biosynthesis of a secondary metabolite (SM) are often located adjacent to one another in the genome and are coordinately regulated. These SM biosynthetic gene clusters typically encode enzymes, one or more transcription factors, and a transport protein. Fusaric acid is a polyketide-derived SM produced by multiple species of the fungal genus Fusarium. This SM is of concern because it is toxic to animals and, therefore, is considered a mycotoxin and may contribute to plant pathogenesis. Preliminary descriptions of the fusaric acid (FA) biosynthetic gene (FUB) cluster have been reported in two Fusarium species, the maize pathogen F. verticillioides and the rice pathogen F. fujikuroi. The cluster consisted of five genes and did not include a transcription factor or transporter gene. Here, analysis of the FUB region in F. verticillioides, F. fujikuroi, and F. oxysporum, a plant pathogen with multiple hosts, indicates the FUB cluster consists of at least 12 genes (FUB1 to FUB12). Deletion analysis confirmed that nine FUB genes, including two Zn(II)2Cys6 transcription factor genes, are required for production of wild-type levels of FA. Comparisons of FUB cluster homologs across multiple Fusarium isolates and species revealed insertion of non-FUB genes at one or two locations in some homologs. Although the ability to produce FA contributed to the phytotoxicity of F. oxysporum culture extracts, lack of production did not affect virulence of F. oxysporum on cactus or F. verticillioides on maize seedlings. These findings provide new insights into the genetic and biochemical processes required for FA production.

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, 2015.