Mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinases have been shown to be required for virulence in diverse phytopathogenic fungi. To study its role in pathogenicity, we disrupted the Amk1 MAP kinase gene, a homolog of the Fus3/Kss1 MAP kinases in Saccharomyces cerevisiae, in the necrotrophic Brassica pathogen, Alternaria brassicicola. The amk1 disruption mutants showed null pathogenicity on intact host plants. However, amk1 mutants were able to colonize host plants when they were inoculated on a physically damaged host surface, or when they were inoculated along with nutrient supplements. On intact plants, mutants expressed extremely low amounts of several hydrolytic enzyme genes that were induced over 10-fold in the wild-type during infection. These genes were also dramatically induced in the mutants on wounded plants. These results imply a correlation between virulence and the expression level of specific hydrolytic enzyme genes plus the presence of an unidentified pathway controlling these genes in addition to or in conjunction with the Amk1 pathway.
- Gene disruption
- Linear minimal element construct
- Mitogen-activated protein kinase
- Pathogenicity factor
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