Functional genomics-guided discovery of a light-activated phytotoxin in the wheat pathogen Parastagonospora nodorum via pathway activation

Yit Heng Chooi, Guozhi Zhang, Jinyu Hu, Mariano Jordi Muria-Gonzalez, Phuong N. Tran, Amber Pettitt, Alexander G. Maier, Russell A. Barrow, Peter S. Solomon

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11 Citations (Scopus)


Parastagonospora nodorum is an important pathogen of wheat. The contribution of secondary metabolites to this pathosystem is poorly understood. A biosynthetic gene cluster (SNOG_08608-08616) has been shown to be upregulated during the late stage of P. nodorum wheat leaf infection. The gene cluster shares several homologues with the Cercospora nicotianae CTB gene cluster encoding the biosynthesis of cercosporin. Activation of the gene cluster by overexpression (OE) of the transcription factor gene (SNOG_08609) in P. nodorum resulted in the production of elsinochrome C, a perelyenequinone phytotoxin structurally similar to cercosporin. Heterologous expression of the polyketide synthase gene elcA from the gene cluster in Aspergillus nidulans resulted in the production of the polyketide precursor nortoralactone common to the cercosporin pathway. Elsinochrome C could be detected on wheat leaves infected with P. nodorum, but not in the elcA disruption mutant. The compound was shown to exhibit necrotic activity on wheat leaves in a light-dependent manner. Wheat seedling infection assays showed that ΔelcA exhibited reduced virulence compared with wild type, while infection by an OE strain overproducing elsinochrome C resulted in larger lesions on leaves. These data provided evidence that elsinochrome C contributes to the virulence of P. nodorum against wheat.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1975-1986
Number of pages12
JournalEnvironmental Microbiology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2017


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