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FEMS Microbiol Lett. 2009 Nov;300(2):201-15. doi: 10.1111/j.1574-6968.2009.01783.x. Epub 2009 Oct 4.

Effector gene screening allows unambiguous identification of Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. lycopersici races and discrimination from other formae speciales.

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Scientia Terrae Research Institute, Sint-Katelijne-Waver, Belgium;


During infection of tomato, the fungus Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. lycopersici secretes several unique proteins, called 'secreted in xylem' (Six) proteins, into the xylem sap. At least some of these proteins promote virulence towards tomato and among them, all predicted avirulence proteins that can trigger disease resistance in tomato have been found. In this study, a large, worldwide collection of F. oxysporum isolates was screened for the presence of seven SIX genes (SIX1-SIX7). The results convincingly show that identification of F. oxysporum formae speciales and races based on host-specific virulence genes can be very robust. SIX1, SIX2, SIX3 and SIX5 can be used for unambiguous identification of the forma specialis lycopersici. In addition, SIX4 can be used for the identification of race 1 strains, while polymorphisms in SIX3 can be exploited to differentiate race 2 from race 3 strains. For SIX6 and SIX7, close homologs were found in a few other formae speciales, suggesting that these genes may play a more general role in pathogenicity. Host specificity may be determined by the unique SIX genes, possibly in combination with the absence of genes that trigger resistance in the host.

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