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Mol Plant Microbe Interact. 2015 Mar;28(3):319-32. doi: 10.1094/MPMI-09-14-0264-R.

Identification of a 12-gene Fusaric Acid Biosynthetic Gene Cluster in Fusarium Species Through Comparative and Functional Genomics.


In fungi, genes involved in biosynthesis of a secondary metabolite (SM) are often located adjacent to one another in the genome and are coordinately regulated. These SM biosynthetic gene clusters typically encode enzymes, one or more transcription factors, and a transport protein. Fusaric acid is a polyketide-derived SM produced by multiple species of the fungal genus Fusarium. This SM is of concern because it is toxic to animals and, therefore, is considered a mycotoxin and may contribute to plant pathogenesis. Preliminary descriptions of the fusaric acid (FA) biosynthetic gene (FUB) cluster have been reported in two Fusarium species, the maize pathogen F. verticillioides and the rice pathogen F. fujikuroi. The cluster consisted of five genes and did not include a transcription factor or transporter gene. Here, analysis of the FUB region in F. verticillioides, F. fujikuroi, and F. oxysporum, a plant pathogen with multiple hosts, indicates the FUB cluster consists of at least 12 genes (FUB1 to FUB12). Deletion analysis confirmed that nine FUB genes, including two Zn(II)2Cys6 transcription factor genes, are required for production of wild-type levels of FA. Comparisons of FUB cluster homologs across multiple Fusarium isolates and species revealed insertion of non-FUB genes at one or two locations in some homologs. Although the ability to produce FA contributed to the phytotoxicity of F. oxysporum culture extracts, lack of production did not affect virulence of F. oxysporum on cactus or F. verticillioides on maize seedlings. These findings provide new insights into the genetic and biochemical processes required for FA production.

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