Identification and analysis of Fusarium verticillioides genes differentially expressed during sporulation
Burnham, Alisha Michele
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Fusarium verticillioides is the causal agent of diseases such as ear rot, resulting in economic losses in maize production. This fungus can also cause diseases in animals due to mycotoxin-contaminated feed. A major aspect of F. verticillioides survival and dispersal is the production of microconidial chains from phialide tips. Upon mating two previously characterized conidia-producing strains, spontaneous mutations occurred resulting in progeny unable to produce conidia. These mutants produced germ tube-like growths from the tips of phialides instead of normal enteroblastic conidia. Based on microarray data comparing a wild-type strain and an aconidial mutant, thirteen candidate genes were chosen for further analysis. One of the thirteen was targeted for gene deletion because of its high fold-change, lack of homology to previously characterized proteins, and similarity only to other filamentous fungi in BLAST searches. Further analysis of these genes may identify novel characteristics of sporulation in F. verticillioides.