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Mechanisms Regulating Grain Contamination with Trichothecenes Translocated from the Stem Base of Wheat (Triticum aestivum) Infected with Fusarium culmorum

Winter, Mark, Koopmann, Birger, Döll, Katharina, Karlovsky, Petr, Kropf, Ute, Schlüter, Klaus, von Tiedemann, Andreas
Phytopathology 2013 v.103 no.7 pp. 682-689
DNA, Fusarium culmorum, Fusarium head blight, Triticum aestivum, climate, crop production, cultivars, deoxynivalenol, fluorescein, fungal diseases of plants, gene expression, glycosylation, hulls, peduncle, plant pathogenic fungi, uridine, wheat, xylem
Factors limiting trichothecene contamination of mature wheat grains after Fusarium infection are of major interest in crop production. In addition to ear infection, systemic translocation of deoxynivalenol (DON) may contribute to mycotoxin levels in grains after stem base infection with toxigenic Fusarium spp. However, the exact and potential mechanisms regulating DON translocation into wheat grains from the plant base are still unknown. We analyzed two wheat cultivars differing in susceptibility to Fusarium head blight (FHB), which were infected at the stem base with Fusarium culmorum in climate chamber experiments. Fungal DNA was found only in the infected stem base tissue, whereas DON and its derivative, DON-3-glucoside (D3G), were detected in upper plant parts. Although infected stem bases contained more than 10,000 μg kg–¹ dry weight (DW) of DON and mean levels of DON after translocation in the ear and husks reached 1,900 μg kg–¹ DW, no DON or D3G was detectable in mature grains. D3G quantification revealed that DON detoxification took mainly place in the stem basis, where ≤50% of DON was metabolized into D3G. Enhanced expression of a gene putatively encoding a uridine diphosphate-glycosyltransferase (GenBank accession number FG985273) was observed in the stem base after infection with F. culmorum. Resistance to F. culmorum stem base infection, DON glycosylation in the stem base, and mycotoxin translocation were unrelated to cultivar resistance to FHB. Histological studies demonstrated that the vascular transport of DON labeled with fluorescein as a tracer from the peduncle to the grain was interrupted by a barrier zone at the interface between grain and rachilla, formerly described as “xylem discontinuity”. This is the first study to demonstrate the effective control of influx of systemically translocated fungal mycotoxins into grains at the rachilla–seed interface by the xylem discontinuity tissue in wheat ears.