Members of the NDR (nuclear Dbf2-related) protein-kinase family are essential for cell differentiation and polarized morphogenesis. However, their functions in plant pathogenic fungi are not well understood. Here, we characterized the NDR kinase FgCot1 and its activator FgMob2 in Fusarium graminearum, a major pathogen causing Fusarium head blight (FHB) in wheat. FgCot1 and FgMob2 formed a NDR kinase–MOB protein complex. Localization assays using FgCot1-GFP or FgMob2-RFP constructs showed diverse subcellular localizations, including cytoplasm, septum, nucleus and hyphal tip. ΔFgcot1 and ΔFgmob2 exhibited serious defects in hyphal growth, polarity, fungal development and cell wall integrity as well as reduced virulence in planta. In contrast, lipid droplet accumulation was significantly increased in these two mutants. Phosphorylation of FgCot1 at two highly conserved residues (S462 and T630) as well as five new sites synergistically contributed its role in various cellular processes. In addition, non-synonymous mutations in two MAPK (mitogen-activated protein kinase) proteins, FgSte11 and FgGpmk1, partially rescued the growth defect of ΔFgmob2, indicating a functional link between the FgCot1–Mob2 complex and the FgGpmk1 signalling pathway in regulating filamentous fungal growth. These results indicated that the FgCot1–Mob2 complex is critical for polarity, fungal development, cell wall organization, lipid metabolism and virulence in F. graminearum.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics