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ARS Home » Midwest Area » St. Paul, Minnesota » Cereal Disease Lab » Research » Research Project #431321

Research Project: Fusarium Head Blight of Cereals: Pathogen Biology, Associated Phytobiome, and Host Resistance

Location: Cereal Disease Lab

2019 Annual Report

1. Halting fungal "toxin factories" may make small grains safer. Harmful byproducts of fungi, called mycotoxins, threaten food safety and cause losses in wheat and barley yield and grain quality. Little is known about structures within fungal cells that make high-level production of mycotoxins possible. ARS researchers located in St. Paul, Minnesota, have discovered that the fungal products vomitoxin and culmorin that contaminate wheat and barley grain, are produced within specialized portions of fungal cells called toxisomes. The formation of toxisomes converts normal fungal cells into virtual "toxin factories". Moreover, treatments that prevent toxisome formation greatly reduce the ability of the fungus to produce mycotoxins. Such treatments may supplement fungicide applications and be important for developing novel strategies for preventing the contamination of grain with vomitoxin and other mycotoxins.

2. Durum wheat resistance to mycotoxin is stable. Durum wheat is greatly impacted by the disease Fusarium head blight (FHB) which contaminates the grain with the harmful mycotoxin Deoxynivalenol (DON). Selected mutants of durum wheat plants generated by altering GC (Guanine-Cytosine pair) methylation patterns (i.e., 5-methyl-azacytidine treatment) were consistently, over multi-location and year testing, more resistant with less DON than parental lines and cultivar checks. To test the genetic stability of resistance, the most promising lines were crossed to parental lines and current durum cultivars and advanced several generations without selection. The BC1F3 families were tested in the field for disease resistance and several families displayed increased resistance similar to the mutant parent and are being deployed by the durum breeding programs for their cultivar enhancement objective. This new native source of FHB resistance in durum wheat will greatly benefit efforts in breeding for resistant cultivars.

Review Publications
Chen, Y., Kistler, H.C., Ma, Z. 2019. Fusarium graminearum trichothecene mycotoxins: Biosynthesis, regulation and management. Annual Review of Phytopathology.
Widinugraheni, S., Nino-Sanchez, J., van der Does, H.C., van Dam, P., Garcia-Bastidas, F.A., Subandiyah, S., Meijer, H.J.G., Kistler, H.C., Kema, G.H.J., Rep, M. 2018. A SIX1 homolog of Fusarium oxysporum f.sp. cubense tropical race 4 contributes to virulence towards Cavendish banana. PLoS One.
Pirseyedi, S.M., Kumar, A., Ghavami, F., Hegstad, J.B., Mergoum, M., Mazaheri, M., Kianian, S.F., Elias, E.M. 2018. Mapping QTL for Fusarium head blight resistance in a Tunisian-derived durum wheat population. Cereal Research Communications. 47(1):78-87.
Kumar, J., Gunapati, S., Kianian, S., Singh, S.P. 2018. Comparative analysis of transcriptome in two wheat genotypes with contrasting levels of drought tolerance. Protoplasma. 255(5):1487-1504.
Liu, Z., Jian, Y., Chen, Y., Kistler, H.C., Ma, Z., Yin, Y. 2019. A phosphorylated transcription factor regulates sterol biosynthesis in Fusarium graminearum. Nature Communications.
Boenisch, M.J., Blum, A., Broz, K.L., Gardiner, D.M., Kistler, H.C. 2019. Nanoscale enrichment of the cytosolic enzyme trichodiene synthase near reorganized endoplasmic reticulum in Fusarium graminearum. Fungal Genetics and Biology. 124:73-77.
Flynn, C.M., Broz, K.L., Jonkers, W., Schmidt-Dannert, C., Kistler, H.C. 2019. Expression of the Fusarium graminearum terpenome and involvement of the endoplasmic reticulum-derived toxisome. Fungal Genetics and Biology. 124:78-87.