International Symposium on Cereal Leaf Blights 2019 | University College Dublin, Ireland | 22-24 May 2019

Spotting the difference: A mutagenomic dissection of virulence and avirulence in Zymoseptoria tritici

Hannah Blyth*
Rothamsted Research
University of Nottingham

Jason Rudd
Rothamsted Research

Kostya Kanyuka
Rothamsted Research

Rumiana Ray
University of Nottingham

Poster Presentation
Pathogen Functional Genetics and Genomics

Atrium, UCD O'Brien centre for Science
Poster 23

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Zymoseptoria tritici (previously Mycosphaerella graminicola) is the causal agent of Septoria tritici leaf blotch (STB), an economically important disease that significantly reduces wheat (Triticum aestivum) yields. During infection, the fungus enters leaves via natural openings, the stomata, and completes its full asexual reproductive cycle without penetrating host cells. Depending on nutrient availability, and temperature, Z. tritici can grow in vitro in either a “yeast-like” budding form or a hyphal form as well as switch between these forms. The ability of this pleomorphic fungus to grow in vitro in a yeast-like form is unusual for filamentous fungi and enables functional genomics studies aimed at the isolation of morphogenic switching genes, many of which contribute to fungal virulence. Furthermore, Z. tritici is amenable to several mutagenesis techniques, such as Agrobacterium-mediated transformation and UV-mutagenesis. The ability to rapidly generate strain libraries as well as the compact nature of its fully sequenced haploid genome (~37Mb) aids mutation discovery. This project will characterise existing mutant libraries, and generate new libraries, with the aim to identify novel virulence and avirulence genes via a mutagenesis-coupled genome resequencing approach. The best candidate genes affecting virulence or avirulence will be subjected to validation analysis (through independent targeted gene deletion and phenotyping) and then studied in further detail to elucidate their mechanistic roles.