Date of Graduation
Master of Science in Plant Pathology (MS)
Second Committee Member
Gray leaf spot, caused by Cercospora zeae-maydis, is one of the most destructive foliar diseases of maize worldwide. C. zeae-maydis orients hyphal growth towards stomata (stomatal tropism) and forms infectious structures (appressoria) that are necessary for successful infection. Although some genes involved in pathogenesis in C. zeae-maydis have been identified, the molecular mechanisms are not well understood. In fungi, heterotrimeric G-proteins consist of three subunits (α, β, and γ) and mediate responses to environmental stimuli. They regulate diverse functions, including nutrient detection, virulence, fungal development, conidiation, secondary metabolism, and pathogenesis in many plant pathogenic fungi. This research explored the role of each G-protein α (Gpα) subunit of C. zeae-maydis in pathogenesis. To this end, the three Gpα subunits identified in C. zeae-maydis were functionally characterized. All three Gpα genes were required for appressorium formation and pathogenesis. Additionally, all three Gpα genes regulated cercosporin biosynthesis and sporulation. Together, these data demonstrated that the Gpα subunits in Cercospora zeae-maydis regulate pathogenesis and suggest that environmental sensing has been impaired. This study links G-protein signaling to infectious development in C. zeae-maydis and sets up a study for transcriptomic analysis of genes regulated by the Gpα genes.
Smith, Brant, "The Role of G-Protein Signaling in Pathogenesis in Cercospora zeae-maydis" (2015). Theses and Dissertations. 1432.