Plant Pathology Department


Date of this Version



Eur J Plant Pathol (2017) 148:941–953 DOI 10.1007/s10658-017-1148-2.


U.S. government work.


Sorghum [Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench] has drawn attention as potential feedstock for lignocellulosic biofuels production, and reducing lignin is one way to increase conversion efficiency. Little research has been previously conducted to assess the response of reduced lignin sorghum lines to the Fusarium stalk rot pathogens Fusarium verticillioides and Fusarium proliferatum and the charcoal rot pathogen, Macrophomina phaseolina. Loss of function mutations in either the Brown midrib (Bmr) 6 or 12 gene that both encode a monolignol biosynthetic enzyme in the pathway that produces subunits of the lignin polymer, results in reduced lignin content. Near-isogenic bmr6, bmr12, and bmr6 bmr12 lines had previously been developed, which were shown to have significantly reduced lignin content and increased levels of soluble phenolics. In the current study, these lines in two backgrounds were shown to not be more susceptible to F. verticillioides, F. proliferatum and M. phaseolina inoculations, and some bmr lines exhibited increased resistance to F. proliferatum and M. phaseolina, compared to wild-type lines. When the Fusarium stalk rot pathogen, Fusarium thapsinum, was grown on methanol soluble stalk extracts from bmr6 and wild-type plants, it grew significantly faster on medium with bmr6 extract than on wild-type extract or controls. This result suggested that factors other than soluble phenolics from the extract, such as cell wall bound phenolics or inducible defense compounds, contributed to increased resistance observed in bmr6 plants.