Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology, Vol.101, No.9, 3637-3651, 2017
Additive roles of two TPS genes in trehalose synthesis, conidiation, multiple stress responses and host infection of a fungal insect pathogen
Intracellular trehalose accumulation is relevant to fungal life and pathogenicity. Trehalose-6-phosphate synthase (TPS) is known to control the first step of trehalose synthesis, but functions of multiple TPS genes in some filamentous fungi are variable. Here, we examined the functions of two TPS genes (tpsA and tpsB) in Beauveria bassiana, a fungal insect pathogen widely applied in arthropod pest control. Intracellular TPS activity and trehalose content decreased by 71-75 and 72-80% in Delta tpsA, and 21-30 and 15-45% in Delta tpsB, respectively, and to undetectable levels in Delta tpsA Delta tpsB, under normal and stressful conditions. The three mutants lost 33, 50, and 98% of conidiation capacity in standard cultures. Conidial quality indicated by viability, density, intracellular trehalose content, cell wall integrity, and hydrophobicity was more impaired in Delta tpsA than in Delta tpsB and mostly in Delta tpsA Delta tpsB, which was also most sensitive to nutritional, chemical, and environmental stresses and least virulent to Galleria mellonella larvae. Almost all of phenotypic defects in Delta tpsA Delta tpsB approached to the sums of those observed in Delta tpsA and Delta tpsB and were restored by targeted gene complementation. Altogether, TpsA and TpsB play complementary roles in sustaining trehalose synthesis, conidiation capacity, conidial quality, multiple stress tolerance, and virulence, highlighting a significance of both for the fungal adaptation to environment and host.