Primary characterization of genes involved in the colony development of the insect pathogenic fungus Metarhizium anisopliae /
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Strain improvement of the insect pathogenic fungus Metarhizium anisopUae is necessary to increase its virulence towards agricultural pests and thus improve its commercial efficacy. Nevertheless, the release of genetically modified conidia in crop fields may negatively affect the ecosystem. Controlling conidiation is a potential means of limiting the release of engineered strains since conidia are the infective propagules and the means of dispersal. The purpose of this study was to research the colony development of M. anisopUae to identify potential targets for genetic manipulation to control conidiation. Following Agrobacterium tumefaciem insertional mutagenesis, phenotypic mutants were characterized using Y-shaped adaptor dependent extension PCR. Four of 1 8 colony development recombinants had T-DNA flanking sequences with high homology to genes encoding known signaling pathway proteins that regulate pathogenesis and/or asexual development in filamentous fungi. Conidial density counts and insect bioassays suggested that a Serine/Threonine protein kinase COTl homolog is not essential for conidiation or virulence. Furthermore, a choline kinase homolog is important for conidiation, but not virulence. Finally, the regulator of G protein signaling CAG8 and a NADPH oxidase NoxA homolog are necessary for conidiation and virulence. These genes are candidates for further investigation into the regulatory pathways controlling conidiation to yield insight into promising gene targets for biocontrol strain improvement.