Sclerotia of Sclerotinia sclerotiorum are pigmented, multihyphal structures that play a central role in the life and infection cycles of this pathogen. Sclerotial formation has been shown to be affected by increased intracellular cAMP levels. Cyclic AMP (cAMP) is a key modulator of cAMP-dependent protein kinase A (PKA) and the latter may prove to play a significant role in sclerotial development. Therefore, we monitored changes in relative PKA activity levels during sclerotial development. To do so, we first developed conditions for near-synchronous sclerotial development in culture, based on hyphal maceration and filtering. Relative PKA activity levels increased during the white-sclerotium stage in the wild-type strain, while low levels were maintained in non-sclerotium-producing mutants. Furthermore, applying caffeine, an inducer of PKA activity, resulted in increased relative PKA activity levels and was correlated with the formation of sclerotial initial-like aggregates in cultures of the non-sclerotium-producing mutants. In addition, low PKA activities were found in an antisense smk1 strain, which exhibits low extracellular-signal- regulated kinase (ERK)-type mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) activity, and does not produce sclerotia. The changes in PKA activity, as well as the abundance of phosphorylated MAPKs (ERK-like as well as p38-like) that accompany sclerotial development in a distinct developmental phase manner represent a potential target for antifungal intervention.
- Oxalic acid