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Eukaryot Cell. 2002 Oct;1(5):719-24.

Isocitrate lyase is essential for pathogenicity of the fungus Leptosphaeria maculans to canola (Brassica napus).

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  • 1School of Botany, The University of Melbourne, Victoria 3010, Australia.


A pathogenicity gene has been identified in Leptosphaeria maculans, the ascomycetous fungus that causes blackleg disease of canola (Brassica napus). This gene encodes isocitrate lyase, a component of the glyoxylate cycle, and is essential for the successful colonization of B. napus. It was identified by a reverse genetics approach whereby a plasmid conferring hygromycin resistance was inserted randomly into the L. maculans genome. Twelve of 516 transformants tested had reduced pathogenicity on cotyledons of B. juncea and B. napus, and 1 of these 12 had a deletion of the isocitrate lyase gene, as well as an insertion of the hygromycin resistance gene. This mutant was unable to grow on fatty acids, including monolaurate, and the isocitrate lyase transcript was not detected. When the wild-type gene was reintroduced into the mutant, growth on monolaurate was restored and pathogenicity was partially restored. L. maculans isocitrate lyase is produced during infection of B. napus cotyledons, while the plant homologue is not. When 2.5% glucose was added to the inoculum of the isocitrate lyase mutant, lesions of sizes similar to those caused by wild-type isolate M1 developed on B. napus cotyledons. These findings suggest that the glyoxylate pathway is essential for disease development by this plant-pathogenic fungus, as has been shown recently for a fungal and bacterial pathogen of animals and a bacterial pathogen of plants. Involvement of the glyoxylate pathway in pathogenesis in animals and plants presents potential drug targets for control of diseases.

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