Tobin L. Peever, and
First, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth, and eleventh authors: Faculty of Agriculture, Kagawa University, Miki, Kagawa 761-0795 Japan; and tenth author: Department of Plant Pathology, Washington State University, Pullman, WA 99164-6430.
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Accepted for publication 16 April 2012.
The rough lemon pathotype of Alternaria alternata produces host-selective ACR-toxin and causes Alternaria leaf spot disease of the rootstock species rough lemon (Citrus jambhiri) and Rangpur lime (C. limonia). Genes controlling toxin production were localized to a 1.5-Mb chromosome carrying the ACR-toxin biosynthesis gene cluster (ACRT) in the genome of the rough lemon pathotype. A genomic BAC clone containing a portion of the ACRT cluster was sequenced which allowed identification of three open reading frames present only in the genomes of ACR-toxin producing isolates. We studied the functional role of one of these open reading frames, ACRTS1 encoding a putative hydroxylase, in ACR-toxin production by homologous recombination-mediated gene disruption. There are at least three copies of ACRTS1 gene in the genome and disruption of two copies of this gene significantly reduced ACR-toxin production as well as pathogenicity; however, transcription of ACRTS1 and production of ACR-toxin were not completely eliminated due to remaining functional copies of the gene. RNA-silencing was used to knock down the remaining ACRTS1 transcripts to levels undetectable by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction. The silenced transformants did not produce detectable ACR-toxin and were not pathogenic. These results indicate that ACRTS1 is an essential gene in ACR-toxin biosynthesis in the rough lemon pathotype of A. alternata and is required for full virulence of this fungus.
© 2012 The American Phytopathological Society