Transcriptional Stages of Conidia Germination and Associated Genes in <em>Aspergillus flavus</em>: An Essential Role for Redox Genes
Toxins (Basel). 2022 Aug 18;14(8):560. doi: 10.3390/toxins14080560.
Aflatoxin is a threatening mycotoxin primarily present in the agricultural environment, especially in food and feedstuff, and poses significant global health risks. Aflatoxins are produced mainly by Aspergillus flavus. Conidia germination is the first step for A. flavus development. In this study, the transcriptome of A. flavus conidia was analyzed at three different stages of conidia germination, which were characterized by two different microscopes. Dormant conidia grew isotropically with the cell size increasing up to 5 h of after being inoculated in a liquid medium. Conidia changed towards polarized growth from 5 to 10 h of germination, during which germ tubes formed. Moreover, transcriptome analyses revealed that a larger number of genes changed in the isotropic growth stages compared to polarized growth, with 1910 differentially expressed genes (DEGs) up-regulated and 969 DEGs down-regulated in isotropic growth. GO and KEGG pathway analyses and pathway enrichment demonstrated that, in the isotropic growth stage, the top three pathways were translation, amino acid and carbohydrate metabolism. The ribosome was a key pathway in translation, as RPS28e, RPL53 and RPL36e were the top three DEGs. For polarized growth stage, lipid metabolism, amino acid metabolism and carbohydrate metabolism were the top three most active pathways. POX1 from alpha-linolenic acid metabolism was a DEG in lipid metabolism as well. Genes related to the antioxidant system were crucial for conidia germination. Furthermore, RT-PCR results showed the same trends as the transcriptome for redox genes, and essential oils have a significant inhibitory effect on germination rate and redox gene expression. Therefore, redox genes play an important role during germination, and the disruption of redox genes is involved in the mechanism of action of coumalic acid and geraniol against A. flavus spore germination.