d-galacturonic acid is the most abundant component of pectin, one of the major polysaccharide constituents of plant cell walls. Galacturonic acid potentially is an important carbon source for microorganisms living on (decaying) plant material. A catabolic pathway was proposed in filamentous fungi, comprising three enzymatic steps, involving d-galacturonate reductase, l-galactonate dehydratase, and 2-keto-3-deoxy-l-galactonate aldolase. We describe the functional, biochemical and genetic characterization of the entire d-galacturonate-specific catabolic pathway in the plant pathogenic fungus Botrytis cinerea. The B. cinerea genome contains two non-homologous galacturonate reductase genes (Bcgar1 and Bcgar2), a galactonate dehydratase gene (Bclgd1), and a 2-keto-3-deoxy-l-galactonate aldolase gene (Bclga1). Their expression levels were highly induced in cultures containing GalA, pectate, or pectin as the sole carbon source. The four proteins were expressed in Escherichia coli and their enzymatic activity was characterized. Targeted gene replacement of all four genes in B. cinerea, either separately or in combinations, yielded mutants that were affected in growth on d-galacturonic acid, pectate, or pectin as the sole carbon source. In Aspergillus nidulans and A. niger, the first catabolic conversion only involves the Bcgar2 ortholog, while in Hypocrea jecorina, it only involves the Bcgar1 ortholog. In B. cinerea, however, BcGAR1 and BcGAR2 jointly contribute to the first step of the catabolic pathway, albeit to different extent. The virulence of all B. cinerea mutants in the d-galacturonic acid catabolic pathway on tomato leaves, apple fruit and bell peppers was unaltered.
- mold hypocrea-jecorina
- filamentous fungi