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Sexual Recombination in Gibberella zeae

February 1999 , Volume 89 , Number  2
Pages  182 - 188

Robert L. Bowden and John F. Leslie

Department of Plant Pathology, Throckmorton Plant Sciences Center, Kansas State University, Manhattan 66506-5502

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Accepted for publication 29 October 1998.

We developed a method for inducing sexual outcrosses in the homothallic Ascomycete fungus Gibberella zeae (anamorph: Fusarium graminearum). Strains were marked with different nitrate nonutilizing (nit) mutations, and vegetative compatibility groups served as additional markers in some crosses. Strains with complementary nit mutations were cocultured on carrot agar plates. Ascospores from individual perithecia were plated on a minimal medium (MM) containing nitrate as the sole nitrogen source. Crosses between different nit mutants segregated in expected ratios (3:1 nit-:nit+) from heterozygous perithecia. Analysis of vegetative compatibility groups of progeny of two crosses indicated two and three vegetative incompatibility (vic) genes segregating, respectively. For rapid testing of sexual recombination between nit mutants, perithecia were inverted over MM to deposit actively discharged ascospores. Development of proto-trophic wild-type colonies was taken as evidence of sexual recombination. Strains of G. zeae group 2 from Japan, Nepal, and South Africa, and from Indiana, Kansas, and Ohio in the United States were sexually interfertile. Four group 1 strains were not interfertile among themselves or with seven group 2 strains. Attempts to cross G. zeae with representatives of F. acuminatum, F. avenaceum, F. culmorum, F. crookwellense, F. oxysporum, and three mating populations of G. fujikuroi were not successful.

Additional keywords: dryland foot rot, ear rot, Fusarium head blight, maize, scab, stalk rot, wheat.

© 1999 The American Phytopathological Society