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Establishment of a selection marker recycling system for sequential transformation of the plant‐pathogenic fungus Colletotrichum orbiculare

Kumakura, Naoyoshi, Ueno, Akiko, Shirasu, Ken
Molecular plant pathology 2019 v.20 no.3 pp. 447-459
Colletotrichum orbiculare, Cucurbitaceae, anthracnose, gene targeting, genes, genetic analysis, homologous recombination, host plants, immunity, models, mutants, plant pathogenic fungi, sequence analysis, uridine, virulence, yeasts
Genome sequencing of pathogenic fungi has revealed the presence of various effectors that aid pathogen invasion by the manipulation of plant immunity. Effectors are often individually dispensable because of duplication and functional redundancy as a result of the arms race between host plants and pathogens. To study effectors that have functional redundancy, multiple gene disruption is often required. However, the number of selection markers that can be used for gene targeting is limited. Here, we established a marker recycling system that allows the use of the same selection marker in successive transformations in the model fungal pathogen Colletotrichum orbiculare, a causal agent of anthracnose disease in plants belonging to the Cucurbitaceae. We identified two C. orbiculare homologues of yeast URA3/pyrG, designated as URA3A and URA3B, which can be used as selection markers on medium with no uridine. The gene can then be removed from the genome via homologous recombination when the fungus is grown in the presence of 5‐fluoroorotic acid (5‐FOA), a chemical that is converted into a toxin by URA3 activity. The ura3a/b double mutants showed auxotrophy for uridine and insensitivity to 5‐FOA. Using the ura3a/b mutants, transformation with the URA3B marker and its removal were successfully applied to disrupt the virulence‐related gene, PKS1. The pks1 mutants showed a reduction in virulence, demonstrating that the method can be used to study virulence‐related genes in C. orbiculare. The establishment of a URA3‐based marker recycling system in plant‐pathogenic fungi enables the genetic analysis of multiple genes that have redundant functions, including effector genes.