Molecular and General Genetics MGG

, Volume 263, Issue 3, pp 463–470

Characterisation of a cyanide hydratase gene in the phytopathogenic fungus Leptosphaeria maculans

  • A. C. Sexton
  • B. J. Howlett

DOI: 10.1007/s004380051190

Cite this article as:
Sexton, A. & Howlett, B. Mol Gen Genet (2000) 263: 463. doi:10.1007/s004380051190


A gene encoding a cyanide hydratase was cloned from an aggressive isolate of Leptosphaeria maculans, the fungus which causes blackleg disease of oilseed Brassica spp. This enzyme catalyses the breakdown of hydrogen cyanide to a less toxic compound, formamide. The predicted amino acid sequence of cyanide hydratase in L. maculans is 77% and 82% identical to cyanide hydratases from two other ascomycetes, Gloeocercospora sorghi and Fusarium lateritium, respectively. The gene is present as a single copy in the L. maculans genome, in both aggressive and non-aggressive isolates, although there is a restriction fragment length polymorphism between these two isolate groups for this gene. The cyanide hydratase promoter contains four putative target sites for GATA transcription factors, proteins that regulate nitrogen metabolism and other processes. Transcription of cyanide hydratase in an aggressive L. maculans isolate is induced strongly by potassium cyanide. Transcription of the gene is detectable in cotyledons of Brassica juncea and B. napus during infection. L. maculans can utilise the reaction product, formamide, as a sole source of nitrogen.

Key wordsLeptosphaeria maculansCyanide hydrataseBrassicaGlucosinolate

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. C. Sexton
    • 1
  • B. J. Howlett
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Botany, The University of Melbourne, Parkville VIC 3052, Australia E-mail:; Fax: +61-3-93471071AU