Fusarium culmorum is one of the species causing Fusarium head blight (FHB) in cereals in Europe. We aimed to investigate the association between the nucleotide diversity of ten F. culmorum candidate genes and field ratings of aggressiveness in winter rye. A total of 100 F. culmorum isolates collected from natural infections were phenotyped for FHB at two locations and two years. Variance components for aggressiveness showed significant isolate and isolate-by-environment variance, as expected for quantitative host-pathogen interactions. Further analysis of the isolate-by-environment interaction revealed the dominant role of the isolate-by-year over isolate-by-location interaction. One single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) in the cutinase (CUT) gene was found to be significantly (p < 0.001) associated with aggressiveness and explained 16.05% of the genotypic variance of this trait in rye. The SNP was located 60 base pairs before the start codon, which suggests a role in transcriptional regulation. Compared to a previous study in winter wheat with the same nucleotide sequences, a larger variation of pathogen aggressiveness on rye was found and a different candidate gene was associated with pathogen aggressiveness. This is the first report on the association of field aggressiveness and a host-specific candidate gene codifying for a protein that belongs to the secretome in F. culmorum.
PMID: 29371506 [PubMed]