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Disruption of a Maize 9-Lipoxygenase Results in Increased Resistance to Fungal Pathogens and Reduced Levels of Contamination with Mycotoxin Fumonisin

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    Authors and Affiliations
    • Xiquan Gao 1
    • Won-Bo Shim 1
    • Cornelia Göbel 2
    • Susan Kunze 2
    • Ivo Feussner 2
    • Robert Meeley 3
    • Peter Balint-Kurti 4
    • Michael Kolomiets 1

      Published Online:https://doi.org/10.1094/MPMI-20-8-0922

      Plant oxylipins, produced via the lipoxygenase (LOX) pathway, function as signals in defense and development. In fungi, oxylipins are potent regulators of mycotoxin biosynthesis and sporogenesis. Previous studies showed that plant 9-LOX-derived fatty acid hydroperoxides induce conidiation and mycotoxin production. Here, we tested the hypothesis that oxylipins produced by the maize 9-LOX pathway are required by pathogens to produce spores and mycotoxins and to successfully colonize the host. Maize mutants were generated in which the function of a 9-LOX gene, ZmLOX3, was abolished by an insertion of a Mutator transposon in its coding sequence, which resulted in reduced levels of several 9-LOX-derived hydroperoxides. Supporting our hypothesis, conidiation and production of the mycotoxin fumonisin B1 by Fusarium verticillioides were drastically reduced in kernels of the lox3 mutants compared with near-isogenic wild types. Similarly, conidia production and disease severity of anthracnose leaf blight caused by Colletotrichum graminicola were significantly reduced in the lox3 mutants. Moreover, lox3 mutants displayed increased resistance to southern leaf blight caused by Cochliobolus heterostrophus and stalk rots caused by both F. verticillioides and C. graminicola. These data strongly suggest that oxylipin metabolism mediated by a specific plant 9-LOX isoform is required for fungal pathogenesis, including disease development and production of spores and mycotoxins.