Pasquali, Matias and Spanu, Francesca and Scherm, Barbara and Balmas, Virgilio and Hoffmann, Lucien and Hammond-Kosack, Kim E. and Beyer, Marco and Migheli, Quirico (2013) FcStuA from Fusarium culmorum controls wheat foot and root rot in a toxin dispensable manner. PLoS One, Vol. 8 (2), e57429. ISSN 1932-6203. Article.
Fusarium culmorum is one of the most harmful pathogens of durum wheat and is the causal agent of foot and root rot (FRR) disease. F. culmorum produces the mycotoxin deoxynivalenol (DON) that is involved in the pathogenic process. The role of the gene FcStuA, a StuA ortholog protein with an APSES domain sharing 98.5% homology to the FgStuA protein (FGSG10129), was determined by functional characterisation of deletion mutants obtained from two F. culmorum wild-type strains, FcUk99 (a highly pathogenic DON producer) and Fc233B (unable to produce toxin and with a mild pathogenic behavior). The ΔFcStuA mutants originating from both strains showed common phenotypic characters including stunted vegetative growth, loss of hydrophobicity of the mycelium, altered pigmentation, decreased activity of polygalacturonic enzymes and catalases, altered and reduced conidiation, delayed conidial germination patterns and complete loss of pathogenicity towards wheat stem base/root tissue. Glycolytic process efficiency [measured as growth on glucose as sole carbon (C) source] was strongly impaired and growth was partially restored on glutamic acid. Growth on pectin-like sources ranked in between glucose and glutamic acid with the following order (the lowest to the highest growth): beechwood xylan, sugarbeet arabinan, polygalacturonic acid, citrus pectin, apple pectin, potato azogalactan. DON production in the mutants originating from FcUK99 strain was significantly decreased (-95%) in vitro. Moreover, both sets of mutants were unable to colonise non-cereal plant tissues, i.e. apple and tomato fruits and potato tubers. No differences between mutants, ectopic and wild-type strains were observed concerning the level of resistance towards four fungicides belonging to three classes, the demethylase inhibitors epoxiconazole and tebuconzole, the succinate dehydrogenase inhibitor isopyrazam and the cytochrome bc1 inhibitor trifloxystrobin. StuA, given its multiple functions in cell regulation and pathogenicity control, is proposed as a potential target for novel disease management strategies.
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