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Phytopathology. 2011 Sep;101(9):1091-6. doi: 10.1094/PHYTO-01-11-0023.

Deoxynivalenol biosynthesis-related gene expression during wheat kernel colonization by Fusarium graminearum.

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Department of Plant Biology, Michigam State University, East Lansing, MI, USA.


Deoxynivalenol (DON) is a potent mycotoxin and virulence factor produced by Fusarium graminearum. We examined the expression of the core DON biosynthetic gene Tri5 during wheat head infection of susceptible and resistant cultivars and susceptible cultivars treated with strobilurin fungicides (e.g., azoxystrobin). DON was quantified to correlate expression with toxin accumulation. The highest Tri5 expression relative to housekeeping genes occurred at the infection front. As infection progressed, earliest-infected kernels showed diminished relative Tri5 expression but Tri5 expression never ceased during the 21 days observed. Azoxystrobin treatment showed no significant effect on either relative Tri5 expression or DON quantity. The resistant cultivar 'Alsen' showed minimal spread of the fungus, with no fungus detected by day 21. DON was not detected in significant quantities in Alsen in the later stages sampled. In Wheaten, DON levels were negligible at 8 days postinoculation (dpi), with detectable DON at later-sampled time points. Tri5 was detected even in fully senesced kernels 21 dpi. Our data demonstrate the presence of Tri5 transcripts in a susceptible cultivar over a much longer time period than has been previously documented. This suggests the ability of the fungus to rapidly resume toxin biosynthesis in dried infected grain should conducive environmental conditions be present, and provides a possible mechanism for high DON levels in asymptomatic grain.

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