Characterization of novel mutants with an altered gibberellin spectrum in comparison to different wild-type strains of Fusarium fujikuroi
The rice pathogen Fusarium fujikuroi is known for producing a wide range of secondary metabolites such as pigments, mycotoxins, and a group of phytohormones, the gibberellic acids (GAs). Bioactive forms of these diterpenes are responsible for hyperelongation of rice stems, yellowish chlorotic leaves, and reduced grain formation during the bakanae disease leading to severely decreased crop yields. GAs are also successfully applied in agriculture and horticulture as plant growth regulators to enhance crop yields, fruit size, and to induce earlier flowering. In this study, six F. fujikuroi wild-type and mutant strains differing in GA yields and the spectrum of produced GAs were cultivated in high-quality lab fermenters for optimal temperature and pH control and compared regarding their growth, GA production, and GA gene expression levels. Comparative analysis of the six strains revealed that strain 6314/DES/PPT1, holding mutations in two GA biosynthetic genes and an additi onal deletion of the 4'-phosphopantetheinyl transferase gene PPT1, exhibits the highest total GA amount. Expression studies of two GA biosynthesis genes, CPS/KS and DES, showed a constantly high expression level for both genes under production conditions (nitrogen limitation) in all strains. By cultivating these genetically engineered mutant strains, we were able to produce not only mixtures of different bioactive GAs (GA3, GA4, and GA7) but also pure GA4 or GA7. In addition, we show that the GA yields are not only determined by different production rates, but also by different decomposition rates of the end products GA3, GA4, and GA7 explaining the varying GA levels of genetically almost identical mutant strains.