Fusarium pseudograminearum is an agronomically important fungus, which infects many crop plants, including wheat, where it causes Fusarium crown rot. Like many other fungi, the Fusarium genus produces a wide range of secondary metabolites of which only few have been characterized. Recently a novel gene cluster was discovered in F. pseudograminearum, which encodes production of cytokinin-like metabolites collectively named Fusarium cytokinins. They are structurally similar to plant cytokinins and can activate cytokinin signalling in vitro and in planta. Here, the regulation of Fusarium cytokinin production was analysed in vitro. This revealed that, similar to deoxynivalenol (DON) production in Fusarium graminearum, cytokinin production can be induced in vitro by specific nitrogen sources in a pH-dependent manner. DON production was also induced in both F. graminearum and F. pseudograminearum in cytokinin-inducing conditions. In addition, microscopic analyses of wheat seedlings infected with a F. pseudograminearum cytokinin reporter strain showed that the fungus specifically induces its cytokinin production in hyphae, which are in close association with the plant, suggestive of a function of Fusarium cytokinins during infection.
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