Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology and The Otto Warburg Minerva Center for Agricultural Biotechnology, Faculty of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Quality Sciences, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Rehovot 76100, Israel
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Accepted for publication 15 December 2004.
Sclerotia of Sclerotinia sclerotiorum are pigmented, multihyphal structures that play a central role in the life and infection cycles of this pathogen. Sclerotial formation has been shown to be affected by increased intracellular cAMP levels. Cyclic AMP (cAMP) is a key modulator of cAMP-dependent protein kinase A (PKA) and the latter may prove to play a significant role in sclerotial development. Therefore, we monitored changes in relative PKA activity levels during sclerotial development. To do so, we first developed conditions for near-synchronous sclerotial development in culture, based on hyphal maceration and filtering. Relative PKA activity levels increased during the white-sclerotium stage in the wild-type strain, while low levels were maintained in nonsclerotium-producing mutants. Furthermore, applying caffeine, an inducer of PKA activity, resulted in increased relative PKA activity levels and was correlated with the formation of sclerotial initial-like aggregates in cultures of the non-sclerotium-producing mutants. In addition, low PKA activities were found in an antisense smk1 strain, which exhibits low extracellular-signal-regulated kinase (ERK)-type mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) activity, and does not produce sclerotia. The changes in PKA activity, as well as the abundance of phosphorylated MAPKs (ERK-like as well as p38-like) that accompany sclerotial development in a distinct developmental phase manner represent a potential target for antifungal intervention.
© 2005 The American Phytopathological Society