Genetic transformation of the tomato pathogen Pyrenochaeta lycopersici allowed gene knockout using a split-marker approach
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Pyrenochaeta lycopersici, as other soil-transmitted fungal pathogens, generally received little attention compared to the pathogens affecting the aerial parts of the plants, although causing stunt and important fruit yield reduction of agronomic relevant crops. The scope of this study was to develop a system allowing to investigate the functional role of P. lycopersici genes putatively involved in the corky root rot of tomato. A genetic transformation system based on a split-marker approach was developed and tested to knock out a P. lycopersici gene encoding for a lytic polysaccharide monooxygenase (Plegl1) induced during the disease development. The regions flanking Plegl1 gene were fused with the overlapping parts of hygromycin marker gene, to favour homologous recombination. We were able to obtain four mutants not expressing the Plegl1 gene though, when tested on a susceptible tomato cultivar, Plegl1 mutants showed unaltered virulence, compared with the wild-type strain. The strategy illustrated in the present work demonstrated for the first time that homologous recombination occurs in P. lycopersici. Moreover, a transformation system mediated by Agrobacterium tumefaciens was established and stable genetic transformants have been obtained. The transformation systems developed represent important tools for investigating both the role of genes putatively involved in P. lycopersici interaction with host plant and the function of other physiological traits which emerged to be genetically expanded from the recent genome sequencing of this fungus.
KeywordsFungal tomato pathogen Homologous recombination Targeted gene disruption Agrobacterium tumefaciens-based transformation
This research was supported by the Italian national project ‘Identificazione di geni implicati nella resistenza e nella patogenicità in interazioni tra piante di interesse agrario e patogeni fungini, batterici e virali’ (RESPAT) funded by MiPAAF.
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