A Conserved Homeobox Transcription Factor Htf1 Is Required for Phialide Development and Conidiogenesis in Fusarium Species
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Conidia are primary means of asexual reproduction and dispersal in a variety of pathogenic fungi, and it is widely recognized that they play a critical role in animal and plant disease epidemics. However, genetic mechanisms associated with conidiogenesis are complex and remain largely undefined in numerous pathogenic fungi. We previously showed that Htf1, a homeobox transcription factor, is required for conidiogenesis in the rice pathogen Magnaporthe oryzae. In this study, our aim was to characterize how Htf1 homolog regulates common and also distinctive conidiogenesis in three key Fusarium pathogens: F. graminearm, F. verticillioides, and F. oxysporum. When compared to wild-type progenitors, the gene-deletion mutants in Fusarium species failed to form conventional phialides. Rather, they formed clusters of aberrant phialides that resembled elongated hyphae segments, and it is conceivable that this led to the obstruction of conidiation in phialides. We also observed that mutants, as well as wild-type Fusaria, can initiate alternative macroconidia production directly from hyphae through budding-like mechanism albeit at low frequencies. Microscopic observations led us to conclude that proper basal cell division and subsequent foot cell development of macroconidia were negatively impacted in the mutants. In F. verticillioides and F. oxysporum, mutants exhibited a 2- to 5- microconidia complex at the apex of monophialides resulting in a floral petal-like shape. Also, prototypical microconidia chains were absent in F. verticillioides mutants. F. graminearum and F. verticillioides mutants were complemented by introducing its native HTF1 gene or homologs from other Fusarium species. These results suggest that Fusarium Htf1 is functionally conserved homeobox transcription factor that regulates phialide development and conidiogenesis via distinct signaling pathways yet to be characterized in fungi.
author list (cited authors)
Zheng, W., Zhao, X. u., Xie, Q., Huang, Q., Zhang, C., Zhai, H., ... Wang, Z.