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Fungal Genet Biol. 2003 Oct;40(1):38-46.

Disruption of Botrytis cinerea class I chitin synthase gene Bcchs1 results in cell wall weakening and reduced virulence.

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Laboratoire de Pathologie Végétale, UMR 217 INRA-Paris VI-INAP-G, 16 rue Claude Bernard, 75005 Paris, France.


To get a better insight into the relationship between cell wall integrity and pathogenicity of the fungus Botrytis cinerea, we have constructed chitin synthase mutants. A 620 bp class I chitin synthase gene fragment (Bcchs1) obtained by PCR amplification was used to disrupt the corresponding gene in the genome. Disruption of Bcchs1 occurred at a frequency of 8%. Nine independent mutants were obtained and the Bcchs1 mutant phenotype compared to that of transformants in which the gene was not disrupted. These disruption mutants were dramatically reduced in their in vitro Mg2+, Mn2+, and Co2+-dependent chitin synthase activity. Chitin content was reduced by 30%, indicating that Bcchs1p contributes substantially to cell wall composition. Enzymatic degradation by a cocktail of glucanases revealed cell wall weakening in the mutant. Bcchs1 was transcribed at a constant level during vegetative exponential growth, suggesting that it was necessary throughout hyphal development. Bcchs1 mutant growth was identical to undisrupted control transformant growth, however, the mutant exhibited reduced pathogenicity on vine leaves. It can be assumed that disruption of Bcchs1 leads to cell wall weakening which might slow down in planta fungal progression.

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