Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. lycopersici C2H2 transcription factor FolCzf1 is required for conidiation, fusaric acid production, and early host infection
The soil-borne, asexual fungus Fusarium oxysporum f.sp. lycopersici (Fol) is a causal agent of tomato wilt disease. The infection process of Fol comprises root recognition, adhesion, penetration, colonization of the root cortex and hyphal proliferation within the xylem vessels, which are under the regulation of virulence-involved transcription factors (TFs). In this study, we identified a gene, designated FolCZF1, which encodes a C2H2 TF in Fol. The homologs of FolCzf1 are also known to affect pathogenicity in F. graminearum and Magnaporthe oryzae on wheat and rice, respectively. We learned that FolCZF1 transcript level is upregulated in conidia and early host infection stage, which led us to hypothesize that FolCzf1 is associated with early host infection in Fol. The FolCZF1 deletion mutant (ΔFolCZF1) exhibited defects in growth rate, conidiation, conidia morphology and a complete loss of virulence on tomato root. Further microscopic observation showed that ΔFolCZF1 can penetrate the root but the primary infection hypha cannot extend its colonization inside the host tissue, suggesting that FolCzf1 TF plays an important role in early infection. Fusaric acid, a secondary metabolite produced by Fusarium species, is suggested as a virulence factor in many crop diseases. We found that FolCzf1 plays a critical role in fusaric acid production by regulating the expression of fusaric acid biosynthesis genes. In summary, FolCzf1 is required for conidiation, secondary metabolism, and early host infection in Fol, and we propose that homologs of FolCzf1 are required for early parasitic growth in other plant pathogenic filamentous fungi.
KeywordsFusarium oxysporum Transcription factor FolCzf1 Virulence Fusaric acid
This research was supported by the Natural Science Foundation of Fujian Province (2016J01113), Young Teacher Education Research Project of Fujian Province (JAT160178), Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University Outstanding Youth Scientific Research Project (xjq201625) and Natural Science Foundation of China (31601583).
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