Year of Publication

2008

Document Type

Dissertation

College

Agriculture

Department

Plant Pathology

First Advisor

Christopher L. Schardl

Abstract

Loline alkaloids (LA) are secondary metabolites produced by Epichloandamp;euml; (anamorph, Neotyphodium) grass endophytes. They are toxic and deterrent to a broad range of herbivorous insects but not to livestock. This protective bioactivity has spurred considerable research into the LA biosynthetic pathway. LOL, the gene cluster containing nine genes, is required for LA biosynthesis. The regulation of LOL genes during LA production in culture and in symbio is of interest. In this study, coordinate regulation between LOL gene expression and LA production level was investigated in both MM culture and symbiota. Results showed that expression of LOL genes in N. uncinatum MM culture were tightly correlated with each other (p andamp;lt; 0.0005), and all presented a significant temporal quadratic pattern during LA production. Gene expression started before LA were detectable, and increased while LA accumulated. The highest gene expression level was reached before the highest amounts of LA were detected, and gene expression level declined to a very low level after amounts of LA plateaued. Observations suggested that the hierarchical clusters based on the correlation coefficient could help to predict the roles of LOL genes in the LA pathway. In symbiota, coordinate coregulation of LOL gene expression with LA was found in E. festucae-meadow fescue inflorescences and stromata, whereby lower LOL gene expression corresponded with the lower LA level in stromata. In N. uncinatum (or N. siegelii)-meadow fescue vegetative tissues, dramatically higher LA levels were found in younger leaf tissue than in older leaf tissue, yet no evidence was found to relate this difference to LOL gene expression differences. Instead, substrate availability may regulate the LA level. In particular, asparagine was more than 10-fold higher in young leaf tissue than in old tissue, although proline was significantly lower in young tissue. Therefore, different regulatory mechanisms underlie LOL gene expression and LA production in different circumstances. The GUS activity of Pro-lolC2-GUS and Pro-lolA2-GUS in Neotyphodium species was almost undetectable in culture, though the activity could be detected in symbiota. The mRNA of GUS did not exhibit the same pattern as lolC2 or lolA2 in culture during LA production time course. A Pro-lolC2-cre transgene was expressed in complex medium, in which lolC2 mRNA was not detectable. These results suggest that proper regulation of LOL genes in culture or symbiota is dependent on the LOL cluster.

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