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Allozyme-Specific Modification of a Maize Seed Chitinase by a Protein Secreted by the Fungal Pathogen Stenocarpella maydis

July 2010 , Volume 100 , Number  7
Pages  645 - 654

Todd A. Naumann and Donald T. Wicklow

Bacterial Foodborne Pathogens and Mycology Research Unit, National Center for Agriculture Utilization Research, Peoria, IL 61604.

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Accepted for publication 12 February 2010.

Stenocarpella maydis causes both dry-ear rot and stalk rot of maize. Maize inbred lines have varying levels of resistance to ear rot caused by S. maydis. The genetic basis of resistance appears to rely on multiple genetic factors, none of which are known. The commonly used stiff-stalk inbred line B73 has been shown to be strongly susceptible to ear rot caused by S. maydis. Here, we report that the ChitA protein alloform from B73, ChitA-F, encoded by a known allele of the chiA gene, is susceptible to modification by a protein (Stm-cmp) secreted by S. maydis. We also identify a new allele of chiA (from inbred line LH82) which encodes ChitA-S, an alloform of ChitA that is resistant to Stm-cmp modification. Chitinase zymogram analysis of seed from a commercial field showed the presence of both ChitA alloforms in healthy ears, and showed that ChitA-F but not ChitA-S was modified in ears rotted by S. maydis. The ChitA-F protein was purified from inbred line B73 and ChitA-S from LH82. ChitA-F was modified more efficiently than ChitA-S by S. maydis protein extracts in vitro. The chiA gene from LH82 was cloned and sequenced. It is a novel allele that encodes six polymorphisms relative to the known allele from B73. This is the first demonstration that the susceptibility to modification of a fungal targeted plant chitinase differs among inbred lines. These findings suggest that the LH82 chiA allele may be a specific genetic determinant that contributes to resistance to ear rot caused by S. maydis whereas the B73 allele may contribute to susceptibility.

Additional keywords:breeding, chitinase-modifying protein, class IV, Diplodia, disease resistance, zeamatin.

The American Phytopathological Society, 2010