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Toxin distribution and sphingoid base imbalances in Fusarium verticillioides-infected and fumonisin B1-watered maize seedlings

Arias, Silvina L., Mary, Verónica S., Otaiza, Santiago N., Wunderlin, Daniel A., Rubinstein, Héctor R., Theumer, Martín G.
Phytochemistry 2016 v.125 pp. 54-64
Fusarium verticillioides, aerial parts, corn, cultivars, fumonisin B1, fungi, gene expression regulation, hybrids, pathogens, phenotype, planting, roots, seedlings, seeds, sphingosine N-acyltransferase
Fusarium verticillioides is a major maize pathogen and there are susceptible and resistant cultivars to this fungal infection. Recent studies suggest that its main mycotoxin fumonisin B1 (FB1) may be involved in phytopathogenicity, but the underlying mechanisms are mostly still unknown. This work was aimed at assessing whether FB1 disseminates inside the plants, as well as identifying possible correlations between the maize resistant/susceptible phenotype and the unbalances of the FB1-structurally-related sphingoid base sphinganine (Sa) and phytosphingosine (Pso) due to toxin accumulation. Resistant (RH) and susceptible hybrid (SH) maize seedlings grown from seeds inoculated with a FB1-producer F. verticillioides and from uninoculated ones irrigated with FB1 (20ppm), were harvested at 7, 14 and 21days after planting (dap), and the FB1, Sa and Pso levels were quantified in roots and aerial parts. The toxin was detected in roots and aerial parts for inoculated and FB1-irrigated plants of both hybrids. However, FB1 levels were overall higher in SH seedlings regardless of the treatment (infection or watering). Sa levels increased substantially in RH lines, peaking at 54-fold in infected roots at 14dap. In contrast, the main change observed in SH seedlings was an increase of Pso in infected roots at 7dap. Here, it was found that FB1 disseminates inside seedlings in the absence of FB1-producer fungal infections, perhaps indicating this might condition the fungus–plant interaction before the first contact. Furthermore, the results strongly suggest the existence of at least two ceramide synthase isoforms in maize with different substrate specificities, whose differential expression after FB1 exposure could be closely related to the susceptibility/resistance to F. verticillioides.