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Title: Genomic analysis of secondary metabolism in Ramularia collo-cygni, causative agent of Ramularia leaf spot disease of barley
Author: Dussart, François Mathieu Didier
ISNI:       0000 0004 7223 9790
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2017
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In the past two decades a new barley threat has emerged as the disease Ramularia leaf spot (RLS) became more prevalent in temperate regions worldwide. This disease, first identified in the late 19th century, is caused by the filamentous fungus Ramularia collo-cygni (Rcc) and can cause substantial yield losses as well as reduce grain quality. RLS typically occurs late in the growing season and characteristic disease symptoms are usually seen after the crop has flowered. Expression of RLS lesions is thought to be associated with the action of fungal secondary metabolism products. The one group of secondary metabolites (SMs) characterised to date from Rcc, the anthraquinone toxins rubellins, are known to cause necrosis to plant tissues in a non-host specific manner. Therefore, it appears that fungal secondary metabolism might be a key component in understanding the interaction between Rcc and its host. In this study, more than 23 core genes involved in the biosynthesis of SMs belonging to the polyketide and non-ribosomal peptide pathways were identified in the genome of Rcc. Putative clusters containing genes with a predicted function relating to secondary metabolism were identified by in silico genome walking in the genetic loci adjacent to Rcc SM core genes. Two gene clusters containing no SM core gene were also identified. Five of the putative SM clusters exhibited similarity to the known fungal SM biochemical pathways involved in gliotoxin, monodictyphenone, ferricrocin, betaenone and chaetoglobosins biosynthesis. Several gene clusters exhibited similarity to SM clusters from fungal species where the SM pathway is uncharacterised. Changes in transcript abundance of selected SM core genes during RLS development in artificially inoculated barley seedlings were tested. Transcript levels were found to be the highest at an early stage of disease development, typically during the asymptomatic and early lesions formation stages and declined over time, suggesting that the associated SMs in Rcc, may not necessarily be involved in symptoms appearance. The in planta mode of action of the non-host specific photoactivated toxin rubellin D was studied in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana. Rubellin-induced cell death appeared phenotypically reminiscent of programmed cell death (PCD). Full expression of rubellin D-induced cell death required the host salicylic acid (SA) pathway and the host proteasome supporting the PCD response to this fungal SM. However, a clear correlation between toxin sensitivity and disease susceptibility could not be found, suggesting a potential alternative role for rubellin in disease symptom development.
Supervisor: Hoebe, Peter ; Havis, Neil ; Spoel, Steven Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Ramularia leaf spot ; barley ; Ramularia collo-cygni ; polyketide ; secondary metabolites ; polyketide phytotoxin