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Role of signal transduction in the pathogenicity of Stagonospora nodorum on wheat

Tan, Kar-Chun (2007) Role of signal transduction in the pathogenicity of Stagonospora nodorum on wheat. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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The fungus Stagonospora nodorum is the causal agent of leaf and glume blotch disease on wheat and is an emerging model for the study of the interaction between plants and necrotrophic fungal pathogens. Signal transduction plays a critical role during infection by allowing the pathogen to sense and appropriately respond to environmental changes. The role of signal transduction in the pathogenicity of S. nodorum was analysed by the targeted inactivation of genes encoding a G[alpha] subunit (Gna1) and a mitogen-activated protein kinase (Mak2). Strains carrying the inactivated genes were impaired in virulence and demonstrated a host of phenotypic impairments such as abolished sporulation. Therefore, it was hypothesised that Gna1 and Mak2 regulate downstream effector molecules that are critical for pathogenic development. A 2D gel-based proteomic approach was used to compare the extracellular and intracellular proteomes of the wild-type fungus and signalling mutants for differences in protein abundance. Tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) analysis and patternmatching against the S. nodorum genome sequence led to the identification of 26 genes from 34 differentially abundant protein spots. These genes possess probable roles in protein cycling, plant cell wall degradation, stress response, nucleotide metabolism, proteolysis, quinate and secondary metabolism. A putative short-chain dehydrogenase gene (Sch1) was identified and its expression was shown to be reduced in both signalling mutants. The transcript level of Sch1 increased during the latter period of infection coinciding with pycnidiation. Sch1 was inactivated by targeted gene deletion. Mutants were able to effectively colonise the host but asexual sporulation was dramatically reduced and pycnidial ontogeny was severely disrupted. Furthermore, the sch1 mutants showed alterations in the metabolome. GC-MS analysis identified a metabolite which accumulated in the sch1 mutants. Computational and database analyses indicated that the compound possesses a cyclic carbon backbone. Based on these findings, Sch1 may be a suitable target for fungicides that inhibit asexual sporulation and the accumulated compound may be used to design novel antifungal compounds. 2D SDS-PAGE analysis identified increased abundance of another putative short-chain dehydrogenase (Sch2) and a nitroreductase in the sch1-deleted background. It was also shown that Sch2 was regulated by Gna1.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences
Supervisor(s): Oliver, Richard
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