The velvet complex governs mycotoxin production and virulence of Fusarium oxysporum on plant and mammalian hosts

Authors

  • Manuel S. López-Berges,

    1. Departamento de Genética, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de Córdoba, Córdoba, Spain
    2. Campus de Excelencia Internacional Agroalimentario ceiA3, Córdoba, Spain
    Current affiliation:
    1. Department of Molecular and Cellular Medicine, Centro de Investigaciones Biológicas CSIC, Madrid, Spain
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  • Concepción Hera,

    1. Departamento de Genética, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de Córdoba, Córdoba, Spain
    2. Campus de Excelencia Internacional Agroalimentario ceiA3, Córdoba, Spain
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  • Michael Sulyok,

    1. Christian Doppler Laboratory for Mycotoxin Research, University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences Vienna, Tulln, Austria
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  • Katja Schäfer,

    1. Departamento de Genética, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de Córdoba, Córdoba, Spain
    2. Campus de Excelencia Internacional Agroalimentario ceiA3, Córdoba, Spain
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  • Javier Capilla,

    1. Mycology Unit, Medical School, Universitat Rovira i Virgili, IISPV, Reus, Spain
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  • Josep Guarro,

    1. Mycology Unit, Medical School, Universitat Rovira i Virgili, IISPV, Reus, Spain
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  • Antonio Di Pietro

    Corresponding author
    1. Campus de Excelencia Internacional Agroalimentario ceiA3, Córdoba, Spain
    • Departamento de Genética, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de Córdoba, Córdoba, Spain
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For correspondence. E-mail ge2dipia@uco.es; Tel. (+34) 957 218981; Fax (+34) 957 212072.

Summary

Fungal pathogens provoke devastating losses in agricultural production, contaminate food with mycotoxins and give rise to life-threatening infections in humans. The soil-borne ascomycete Fusarium oxysporum attacks over 100 different crops and can cause systemic fusariosis in immunocompromised individuals. Here we functionally characterized VeA, VelB, VelC and LaeA, four components of the velvet protein complex which regulates fungal development and secondary metabolism. Deletion of veA, velB and to a minor extent velC caused a derepression of conidiation as well as alterations in the shape and size of microconidia. VeA and LaeA were required for full virulence of F. oxysporum on tomato plants and on immunodepressed mice. A critical contribution of velvet consists in promoting chromatin accessibility and expression of the biosynthetic gene cluster for beauvericin, a depsipeptide mycotoxin that functions as a virulence determinant. These results reveal a conserved role of the velvet complex during fungal infection on plants and mammals.

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