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Journal of Pathogens
Volume 2011, Article ID 626345, 9 pages
Research Article

Characterisation of the Fusarium graminearum-Wheat Floral Interaction

Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology, Centre for Sustainable Pest and Disease Management, Rothamsted Research, Harpenden, Hertfordshire AL5 2JQ, UK

Received 29 March 2011; Accepted 28 June 2011

Academic Editor: Simone Ferrari

Copyright © 2011 Neil A. Brown et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Fusarium Ear Blight is a destructive fungal disease of cereals including wheat and can contaminate the crop with various trichothecene mycotoxins. This investigation has produced a new β-glucuronidase (GUS) reporter strain that facilitates the quick and easy assessment of plant infection. The constitutively expressed gpdA:GUS strain of Fusarium graminearum was used to quantify the overall colonisation pattern. Histochemical and biochemical approaches confirmed, in susceptible wheat ear infections, the presence of a substantial phase of symptomless fungal growth. Separate analyses demonstrated that there was a reduction in the quantity of physiologically active hyphae as the wheat ear infection proceeded. A simplified linear system of rachis infection was then utilised to evaluate the expression of several TRI genes by RT-qPCR. Fungal gene expression at the advancing front of symptomless infection was compared with the origin of infection in the rachis. This revealed that TRI gene expression was maximal at the advancing front and supports the hypothesis that the mycotoxin deoxynivalenol plays a role in inhibiting plant defences in advance of the invading intercellular hyphae. This study has also demonstrated that there are transcriptional differences between the various phases of fungal infection and that these differences are maintained as the infection proceeds.