Plant diseases caused by plant pathogenic fungi continuously threaten the sustainability of global crop production. An effective way to study the disease-causing mechanisms of these organisms is to disrupt their genes, in both a targeted and random manner, so as to isolate mutants exhibiting altered virulence. Although a number of techniques have been employed for such an analysis, those based on transformation are by far the most commonly used. In filamentous fungi, the introduction of DNA by transformation typically results in either the heterologous (illegitimate) integration or the homologous integration of the transforming DNA into the target genome. Homologous integration permits a targeted gene disruption by replacing the wild-type allele on the genome with a mutant allele on transforming DNA. This process has been widely used to determine the role of newly isolated fungal genes in pathogenicity. The heterologous integration of transforming DNA causes a random process of gene disruption (insertional mutagenesis) and has led to the isolation of many fungal mutants defective in pathogenicity. A big advantage of insertional mutagenesis over the more traditional chemical or radiation mutagenesis procedures is that the mutated gene is tagged by transforming DNA and can subsequently be cloned using the transforming DNA. The application of various transformation-based techniques for fungal gene manipulation and how they have increased our understanding and appreciation of some of the most serious plant pathogenic fungi are discussed.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Medicine
- Molecular Biology
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
- Cell Biology