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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2004 Aug;70(8):4733-9.

veA is required for toxin and sclerotial production in Aspergillus parasiticus.

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Department of Biological Sciences, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, IL 60115, USA.


It was long been noted that secondary metabolism is associated with fungal development. In Aspergillus nidulans, conidiation and mycotoxin production are linked by a G protein signaling pathway. Also in A. nidulans, cleistothecial development and mycotoxin production are controlled by a gene called veA. Here we report the characterization of a veA ortholog in the aflatoxin-producing fungus A. parasiticus. Cleistothecia are not produced by Aspergillus parasiticus; instead, this fungus produces spherical structures called sclerotia that allow for survival under adverse conditions. Deletion of veA from A. parasiticus resulted in the blockage of sclerotial formation as well as a blockage in the production of aflatoxin intermediates. Our results indicate that A. parasiticus veA is required for the expression of aflR and aflJ, which regulate the activation of the aflatoxin gene cluster. In addition to these findings, we observed that deletion of veA reduced conidiation both on the culture medium and on peanut seed. The fact that veA is necessary for conidiation, production of resistant structures, and aflatoxin biosynthesis makes veA a good candidate gene to control aflatoxin biosynthesis or fungal development and in this way to greatly decrease its devastating impact on health and the economy.

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