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ARS Home » Southeast Area » New Orleans, Louisiana » Southern Regional Research Center » Food and Feed Safety Research » Research » Research Project #436475

Research Project: Identification and Characterization of Regulatory Genes in A. flavus that are Involved in Development, Secondary Metabolism and Virulence

Location: Food and Feed Safety Research

Project Number: 6054-41420-008-05-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Jun 3, 2019
End Date: Jun 2, 2021

Objective:
Identify key genes in Aspergillus flavus whose expression are dependent on the presence of regulatory genes such as homeobox 1 (hbx1), hbx1-dependent genes and microRNA-like RNAs (ribonucleic acids). Functionally characterize the role of these genes in the biology of the fungus including regulation of development, secondary metabolism and virulence. Analyze the potential of newly identified genes to serve as targets for maize RNAi-based gene silencing approaches.

Approach:
Data acquired from Aspergillus (A.) flavus transcriptomic and ChIP-seq studies will be used to identify key regulatory genes such as homeobox 1 (hbx1)-dependent genes that play a role in development, secondary metabolism and virulence. Using A. flavus and extensive previous knowledge from the well-established fungal model A. nidulans, gene inactivation and overexpression studies will be used to determine the role of previously uncharacterized genes in fungal toxin production, development, virulence and response to oxidative and osmotic stress. Fungal microRNA-like RNAs (ribonucleic acids) identified from RNA-seq studies of the maize-A. flavus interaction will also be analyzed for their role in the pathobiology of the fungus. Should any of the identified genes demonstrate a significant role in the biology of the fungus, they will be used in the development of RNAi-based hairpin vectors that will target them for silencing during infection of maize by the fungus.