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Alteration in Lignin Biosynthesis Restricts Growth of Fusarium spp. in Brown Midrib Sorghum

July 2010 , Volume 100 , Number  7
Pages  671 - 681

Deanna L. Funnell-Harris, Jeffrey F. Pedersen, and Scott E. Sattler

First author: Grain, Forage and Bioenergy Research Unit, United States Department of Agriculture--Agricultural Research Service, 314 BioChem Hall, East Campus, and Department of Plant Pathology, University of Nebraska, Lincoln 68583-0737; and second and third authors: Department of Agronomy and Horticulture, University of Nebraska, Lincoln.

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Accepted for publication 13 March 2010.

To improve sorghum for bioenergy and forage uses, brown midrib (bmr)6 and -12 near-isogenic genotypes were developed in different sorghum backgrounds. The bmr6 and bmr12 grain had significantly reduced colonization by members of the Gibberella fujikuroi species complex compared with the wild type, as detected on two semiselective media. Fusarium spp. were identified using sequence analysis of a portion of the translation elongation factor (TEF) 1-α gene. The pathogens Fusarium thapsinum, F. proliferatum, and F. verticillioides, G. fujikuroi members, were commonly recovered. Other frequently isolated Fusarium spp. likely colonize sorghum asymptomatically. The χ2 analyses showed that the ratios of Fusarium spp. colonizing bmr12 grain were significantly different from the wild type, indicating that bmr12 affects colonization by Fusarium spp. One F. incarnatum-F. equiseti species complex (FIESC) genotype, commonly isolated from wild-type and bmr6 grain, was not detected in bmr12 grain. Phylogenetic analysis suggested that this FIESC genotype represents a previously unreported TEF haplotype. When peduncles of wild-type and near-isogenic bmr plants were inoculated with F. thapsinum, F. verticillioides, or Alternaria alternata, the resulting mean lesion lengths were significantly reduced relative to the wild type in one or both bmr mutants. This indicates that impairing lignin biosynthesis results in reduced colonization by Fusarium spp. and A. alternata.

Additional keywords:caffeic acid O-methyltransferase, cinnamyl alcohol dehydrogenase, Fusarium equiseti.

The American Phytopathological Society, 2010