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PLoS One. 2013 Jun 24;8(6):e66980. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0066980. Print 2013.

The MAT locus genes play different roles in sexual reproduction and pathogenesis in Fusarium graminearum.

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  • 1State Key Laboratory of Crop Stress Biology for Arid Areas, College of Plant Protection, Northwest Agricultural and Forestry University, Yangling, Shaanxi, China.


Sexual reproduction plays a critical role in the infection cycle of Fusarium graminearum because ascospores are the primary inoculum. As a homothallic ascomycete, F. graminearum contains both the MAT1-1 and MAT1-2-1 loci in the genome. To better understand their functions and regulations in sexual reproduction and pathogenesis, in this study we assayed the expression, interactions, and mutant phenotypes of individual MAT locus genes. Whereas the expression of MAT1-1-1 and MAT12-1 rapidly increased after perithecial induction and began to decline after 1 day post-perithecial induction (dpi), the expression of MAT1-1-2 and MAT1-1-3 peaked at 4 dpi. MAT1-1-2 and MAT1-1-3 had a similar expression profile and likely are controlled by a bidirectional promoter. Although none of the MAT locus genes were essential for perithecium formation, all of them were required for ascosporogenesis in self-crosses. In outcrosses, the mat11-1-2 and mat11-1-3 mutants were fertile but the mat1-1-1 and mat1-2-1 mutants displayed male- and female-specific defects, respectively. The mat1-2-1 mutant was reduced in FgSO expression and hyphal fusion. Mat1-1-2 interacted with all other MAT locus transcription factors, suggesting that they may form a protein complex during sexual reproduction. Mat1-1-1 also interacted with FgMcm1, which may play a role in controlling cell identity and sexual development. Interestingly, the mat1-1-1 and mat1-2-1 mutants were reduced in virulence in corn stalk rot assays although none of the MAT locus genes was important for wheat infection. The MAT1-1-1 and MAT1-2-1 genes may play a host-specific role in colonization of corn stalks.

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