Ztf1, an Ustilago maydis transcription factor involved in virulence
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Ustilago maydis (DC.) Cda., the causal agent of common corn smut, is considered an important model to analyze fundamental problems of fungal development and virulence. In this work, we proceeded to analyze the characteristics and role in Zea mays and Arabidopsis thaliana virulence of the UMAG_02301 gene encoding an important and conserved transcription factor (ZTF1) that is over-expressed in the experimental pathosystem U. maydis/A. thaliana. Mutants in this gene were deficient in virulence to both, A. thaliana and Z. mays, and affected in the yeast-to-mycelium dimorphic transition induced by use of a fatty acid as carbon source, but not by acid pH. In addition, it was observed that the gene was positively or negatively regulated by different kinds of stress. The observation that the gene is involved in virulence to both, its natural host, maize, and the experimental host, A. thaliana, is evidence of the usefulness of the U. maydis/A. thaliana pathosystem for the study of the virulence mechanisms of the fungus.
KeywordsUstilago maydis Maize pathogenesis Arabidopsis thaliana Plant disease Stress conditions
This project was partially supported by Consejo Nacional de Cencia y Tecnología (CONACYT), México. JMVH was a Doctoral student supported with a fellowship from CONACYT. Thanks are given to Claudia León-Ramírez, Mayela F. Salazar-Chavez, and Drs. Cinthia V. Soberanes-Gutiérrez, and Alejandro Sánchez-Arreguín for their help or guidance in the application of different techniques.
Compliance with ethical standards
All the authors declare that this research article is not submitted elsewhere for publication and they are aware of the ethical responsibilities required for this journal for the submission of manuscripts.
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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