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'Qin, Y, Ortiz-Urquiza, A and Keyhani, NO (2014) A putative methyltransferase, mtrA, contributes to development, spore viability, protein secretion, and virulence in the entomopathogenic fungus Beauveria bassiana. Microbiology (Reading, Engl.) '
The filamentous fungus, Beauveria bassiana, is a ubiquitously distributed insect pathogen, currently used as an alternative to chemical pesticides for pest control. Conidiospores are the means by which the fungus disseminates in the environment and these cells also represent the infectious agent most commonly used in field applications. Little, however, is known concerning the molecular basis for maintenance of spore viability, a critical feature for survival and persistence. Here, we report on the role of a putative methyltransferase, BbmtrA, in conidial viability, normal fungal growth and development, and virulence, via characterization of a targeted gene knockout strain. Loss of BbmtrA resulted in pleiotropic effects including reduced germination, growth, and conidiation, with growing mycelia displaying greater branching than the wild type parent. Conidial viability dramatically decreased over time, with <5% of the cells remaining viable after 30 d as compared to >80% of the wild type. Reduced production of extracellular proteins, including protease/peptidases, glycoside hydrolases, and the Hyd1 hydrophobin, the latter further confirmed by hyd1 gene expression analysis, was also observed for the ΔBbmtrA mutant. Insect bioassays using the Greater Waxmoth, Galleria mellonella, further revealed that the ΔBbmtrA strain was attenuated in virulence and failed to sporulate on dead host cadavers. These data support a global role for mtrA in fungal physiological processes.