, Volume 66, Issue 6, pp 597-611
Date: 02 Dec 2004

Gibberellin biosynthesis in fungi: genes, enzymes, evolution, and impact on biotechnology

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Abstract

Gibberellins (GAs) constitute a large family of tetracyclic diterpenoid carboxylic acids, some members of which function as growth hormones in higher plants. As well as being phytohormones, GAs are also present in some fungi and bacteria. In recent years, GA biosynthetic genes from Fusarium fujikuroi and Arabidopsis thaliana have been cloned and well characterised. Although higher plants and the fungus both produce structurally identical GAs, there are important differences indicating that GA biosynthetic pathways have evolved independently in higher plants and fungi. The fact that horizontal gene transfer of GA genes from the plant to the fungus can be excluded, and that GA genes are obviously missing in closely related Fusarium species, raises the question of the origin of fungal GA biosynthetic genes. Besides characterisation of F. fujikuroi GA pathway genes, much progress has been made in the molecular analysis of regulatory mechanisms, especially the nitrogen metabolite repression controlling fungal GA biosynthesis. Basic research in this field has been shown to have an impact on biotechnology. Cloning of genes, construction of knock-out mutants, gene amplification, and regulation studies at the molecular level are powerful tools for improvement of production strains. Besides increased yields of the final product, GA3, it is now possible to produce intermediates of the GA biosynthetic pathway, such as ent-kaurene, ent-kaurenoic acid, and GA14, in high amounts using different knock-out mutants. This review concentrates mainly on the fungal biosynthetic pathway, the genes and enzymes involved, the regulation network, the biotechnological relevance of recent studies, and on evolutionary aspects of GA biosynthetic genes.