In Sorghum bicolor, a group of phytoalexins are induced at the site of infection by Colletotrichum sublineolum, the anthracnose fungus. These compounds, classified as 3-deoxyanthocyanidins, have structural similarities to the precursors of phlobaphenes. Sorghum yellow seed1 (y1) encodes a MYB transcription factor that regulates phlobaphene biosynthesis. Using the candystripe1 transposon mutagenesis system in sorghum, we have isolated functional revertants as well as loss-of-function alleles of y1. These near-isogenic lines of sorghum show that, compared to functionally revertant alleles, loss of y1 lines do not accumulate phlobaphenes. Molecular characterization of two null y1 alleles shows a partial internal deletion in the y1 sequence. These null alleles, designated as y1-ww1 and y1-ww4, do not accumulate 3-deoxyanthocyanidins when challenged with the nonpathogenic fungus Cochliobolus heterostrophus. Further, as compared to the wild-type allele, both y1-ww1 and y1-ww4 show greater susceptibility to the pathogenic fungus C. sublineolum. In fungal-inoculated wild-type seedlings, y1 and its target flavonoid structural genes are coordinately expressed. However, in y1-ww1 and y1-ww4 seedlings where y1 is not expressed, steady-state transcripts of its target genes could not be detected. Cosegregation analysis showed that the functional y1 gene is genetically linked with resistance to C. sublineolum. Overall results demonstrate that the accumulation of sorghum 3-deoxyanthocyanidin phytoalexins and resistance to C. sublineolum in sorghum require a functional y1 gene.
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