Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology, Vol.105, No.19, 7379-7393, 2021
DdaSTE12 is involved in trap formation, ring inflation, conidiation, and vegetative growth in the nematode-trapping fungus Drechslerella dactyloides
Ste12 transcription factors, downstream of mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signalling pathways, are exclusively found in the fungal kingdom and regulate fungal mating, development, and pathogenicity. The nematode-trapping fungus Drechslerella dactyloides can capture free-living nematodes using constricting rings by cell inflation within 1 s when stimulated by nematodes entering the rings. The MAPK signalling pathways are involved in the trap formation of nematode-trapping fungi, but their downstream regulation is not clearly understood. In this study, disruption of the DdaSTE12 gene in D. dactyloides disabled cell inflation of constricting rings and led to an inability to capture nematodes. The number of septa of constricting rings and the ring cell vacuoles were changed in Delta DdaSTE12. Compared with the wild type, Delta DdaSTE12 reduced trap formation, conidiation, and vegetative growth by 79.3%, 80.3%, and 21.5%, respectively. The transcriptomes of Delta DdaSTE12-3, compared with those of the wild type, indicated that the expression of genes participating in trap formation processes, including signal transduction (Gpa2 and a 7-transmembrane receptor), vesicular transport and cell fusion (MARVEL domain-containing proteins), and nematode infection (PEX11 and CFEM domain-containing proteins), is regulated by DdaSTE12. The results suggest that DdaSTE12 is involved in trap formation and ring cell inflation, as well as conidiation and vegetative growth, by regulating a wide range of downstream functions. Our findings expanded the roles of Ste12 homologous transcription factors in the development of constricting rings and provided new insights into the downstream regulation of the MAPK signalling pathway involved in nematode predation.