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Concept: Sigatoka


Black Sigatoka or black leaf streak disease, caused by the Dothideomycete fungus Pseudocercospora fijiensis (previously: Mycosphaerella fijiensis), is the most significant foliar disease of banana worldwide. Due to the lack of effective host resistance, management of this disease requires frequent fungicide applications, which greatly increase the economic and environmental costs to produce banana. Weekly applications in most banana plantations lead to rapid evolution of fungicide-resistant strains within populations causing disease-control failures throughout the world. Given its extremely high economic importance, two strains of P. fijiensis were sequenced and assembled with the aid of a new genetic linkage map. The 74-Mb genome of P. fijiensis is massively expanded by LTR retrotransposons, making it the largest genome within the Dothideomycetes. Melting-curve assays suggest that the genomes of two closely related members of the Sigatoka disease complex, P. eumusae and P. musae, also are expanded. Electrophoretic karyotyping and analyses of molecular markers in P. fijiensis field populations showed chromosome-length polymorphisms and high genetic diversity. Genetic differentiation was also detected using neutral markers, suggesting strong selection with limited gene flow at the studied geographic scale. Frequencies of fungicide resistance in fungicide-treated plantations were much higher than those in untreated wild-type P. fijiensis populations. A homologue of the Cladosporium fulvum Avr4 effector, PfAvr4, was identified in the P. fijiensis genome. Infiltration of the purified PfAVR4 protein into leaves of the resistant banana variety Calcutta 4 resulted in a hypersensitive-like response. This result suggests that Calcutta 4 could carry an unknown resistance gene recognizing PfAVR4. Besides adding to our understanding of the overall Dothideomycete genome structures, the P. fijiensis genome will aid in developing fungicide treatment schedules to combat this pathogen and in improving the efficiency of banana breeding programs.

Concepts: Gene, Virus, Genetic linkage, William Bateson, Banana, Black sigatoka, Sigatoka, Mycosphaerella


The Dothideomycete Pseudocercospora fijiensis, previously Mycosphaerella fijiensis, is the causal agent of black Sigatoka, one of the most destructive diseases of bananas and plantains. Disease management depends on fungicide applications with a major share for sterol demethylation-inhibitors (DMIs). The continued use of DMIs puts a considerable selection pressure on natural P. fijiensis populations enabling the selection of novel genotypes with reduced sensitivity. The hitherto explanatory mechanism for this reduced sensitivity was the presence of non-synonymous point mutations in the target gene Pfcyp51, encoding the sterol 14α-demethylase enzyme. Here, we demonstrate a second mechanism involved in DMI sensitivity of P. fijiensis. We identified a 19bp element in the wild type (wt) Pfcyp51 promoter that concatenates in strains with reduced DMI sensitivity. A PCR assay identified up to six Pfcyp51 promoter repeats in four field populations of P. fijiensis in Costa Rica. We used transformation experiments to swap the wild type promoter of a sensitive field isolate with a promoter from a strain with reduced DMI sensitivity that comprised multiple insertions. Comparative in vivo phenotyping showed a functional and proportional upregulation of Pfcyp51, which consequently decreased DMI sensitivity. Our data demonstrate that point mutations in the Pfcyp51 coding domain as well as promoter inserts contribute to reduced DMI sensitivity of P. fijiensis. These results bring new insights into the importance of the appropriate use of DMIs and the need for the discovery of new molecules for black Sigatoka management. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Natural selection, Costa Rica, Banana, Black sigatoka, Sigatoka, Mycosphaerella


Mycosphaerella fijiensis, causative agent of the black Sigatoka disease of banana, is considered the most economically damaging banana disease. Despite its importance, the genetics of pathogenicity are poorly understood. Previous studies have characterized polyketide pathways with possible roles in pathogenicity. To identify additional candidate pathogenicity genes, we compared the transcriptome of this fungus during the necrotrophic phase of infection with that during saprophytic growth in medium.

Concepts: Bacteria, Banana, Musa, Plantain, Black sigatoka, Sigatoka, Mycosphaerella, Bananito


The tropical and mycoparasite strain Streptomyces galilaeus CFFSUR-B12 was evaluated as an antagonist of Mycosphaerella fijiensis Morelet, causal agent of the Black Sigatoka Disease (BSD) of banana. On zymograms of CFFSUR-B12 culture supernatants, we detected four chitinases of approximately 32 kDa (Chi32), 20 kDa (Chi20), and two with masses well over 170 kDa (ChiU) that showed little migration during denaturing electrophoresis at different concentrations of polyacrylamide. The thymol-sulphuric acid assay showed that the ChiU were glycosylated chitinases. Moreover, matrix assisted laser desorption ionization time-of-flight MS analysis revealed that the ChiU are the same protein and identical to a family 18 chitinase from Streptomyces sp. S4 (gi|498328075). Chi32 was similar to an extracellular protein from Streptomyces albus J1074 (gi|478687481) and Chi20 was non-significantly similar to chitinases from five different strains of Streptomyces (P > 0.05). Subsequently, Chi32 and Chi20 were partially purified by anion exchange and hydrophobic interaction chromatography and tested against M. fijiensis. Chitinases failed to inhibit ascospore germination, but inhibited up to 35 and 62 % of germ tube elongation and mycelial growth, respectively. We found that crude culture supernatant and living cells of S. galilaeus CFFSUR-B12 were the most effective in inhibiting M. fijiensis and are potential biocontrol agents of BSD.

Concepts: Protein, Bacteria, Chromatography, Analytical chemistry, Banana, Black sigatoka, Sigatoka, Mycosphaerella


Black leaf streak disease, also known as black Sigatoka, causes dramatic losses in production of banana and plantains fruits. The disease is caused by the pathogenic fungus Mycosphaerella fijiensis (anamorph Pseudocercospora fijiensis; Mycosphaerellaceae). Genetic transformation of M. fijiensis would allow a better understanding of molecular basis of pathogenicity and design novel approaches to control the infection caused by this pathogen. However, transformation of this fungus has not been easy. We report here a protocol for genetic transformation of M. fijiensis employing underwater shock waves and intact conidia. The recombinant strains recovered showed genetic stability over >10 generations. The frequency of transformation obtained was between 75 and 150 times higher than the efficiency reported in the only article published on transformation of M. fijiensis using spheroplasts. This improvement allowed the use of a thousand times less cells than the amount employed before, avoiding the need for cumbersome successive batch cultures. Our protocol is simple, highly efficient, fast and reproducible and together with the available genomes of M. fijiensis and Musa acuminata, it offers new possibilities to study the diverse mechanisms of pathogenesis of the fungus.

Concepts: Bacteria, Microbiology, Escherichia coli, Banana, Musa, Black sigatoka, Sigatoka, Mycosphaerella


The Enterobacterial repetitive intergenic consensus (ERIC) marker was used to analyze the genetic variability of Mycosphaerella fijiensis, the causative agent of Black Sigatoka disease in banana plants. A total of 123 isolates were used, which were divided into populations based on their original hosts and collection sites in Brazil. A total of 9 loci were amplified, 77.8% of which were found to be polymorphic. The genetic diversity found in the population was 0.20. Analysis of molecular variance (AMOVA) demonstrated that the highest level of genetic variation is within populations. Cluster analysis revealed three main groups in Brazil, with no correlation between geographic and genetic distance.

Concepts: DNA, Population genetics, Genetic diversity, Banana, Human genetic variation, Black sigatoka, Sigatoka, Mycosphaerella


Pseudocercospora fijiensis is the etiological agent of black Sigatoka, which is currently considered as one of the most destructive banana diseases in all locations where it occurs. It is estimated that a large portion of the P. fijiensis genome consists of transposable elements, which allows researchers to use transposon-based molecular markers in the analysis of genetic variability in populations of this pathogen. In this context, the inter-retrotransposon-amplified polymorphism (IRAP) was used to study the genetic variability in P. fijiensis populations from different hosts and different geographical origins in Brazil. A total of 22 loci were amplified and 77.3 % showed a polymorphism. Cluster analysis revealed two major groups in Brazil. The observed genetic diversity (H E) was 0.22, and through molecular analysis of variance, it was determined that the greatest genetic variability occurs within populations. The discriminant analysis of principal components revealed no structuring related to the geographical origin of culture of the host. The IRAP-based marker system is a suitable tool for the study of genetic variability in P. fijiensis.

Concepts: Evolution, Molecular biology, RNA, Analysis of variance, Banana, Black sigatoka, Sigatoka, Banana diseases


The fungus Mycosphaerella fijiensis is the causative agent of black sigatoka, which is one of the most destructive diseases of banana plants. Infection with this pathogen results in underdeveloped fruit, with no commercial value. We analyzed the distribution of the M. fijiensis mating-type system and its genetic variability using M13 phage DNA markers. We found a 1:1 distribution of mating-type alleles, indicating MAT1-1 and MAT1-2 idiomorphs. A polymorphism analysis using three different primers for M13 markers showed that only the M13 minisatellite primers generated polymorphic products. We then utilized this polymorphism to characterize 40 isolates from various Brazilian states. The largest genetic distances were found between isolates from the same location and between isolates from different parts of the country. Therefore, there was no correlation between the genetic similarity and the geographic origin of the isolates. The M13 marker was used to generate genetic fingerprints for five isolates; these fingerprints were compared with the band profiles obtained from inter-simple sequence repeat (UBC861) and inter-retrotransposon amplified polymorphism analyses. We found that the M13 marker was more effective than the other two markers for differentiating these isolates.

Concepts: DNA, Genetics, Bacteria, Plant pathogens and diseases, Banana, Black sigatoka, Sigatoka, Mycosphaerella