Biflagellate zoospores of the highly destructive plant pathogens in the genus Phytophthora are responsible for the initiation of infection of host plants. Zoospore motility is a critical component of the infection process because it allows zoospores to actively target suitable infection sites on potential hosts. Flagellar assembly and function in eukaryotes depends on a number of dynein-based molecular motors that facilitate retrograde intraflagellar transport and sliding of adjacent microtubule doublets in the flagellar axonemes. Dynein light chain 1 (DLC1) is one of a number of proteins in the dynein outer arm multiprotein complex. It is a 22 kDa leucine-rich repeat protein that binds to the catalytic motor domain of the dynein gamma heavy chain. We report the cloning and characterization of DLC1 homologues in Phytophthora cinnamomi and Phytophthora nicotianae (PcDLC1 and PnDLC1). PcDLC1 and PnDLC1 are single copy genes that are more highly expressed in sporulating hyphae than in vegetative hyphae, zoospores or germinated cysts. Polyclonal antibodies raised against PnDLC1 locallized PnDLC1 along the length of the flagella of P. nicotianae zoospores. RNAi-mediated silencing of PnDLC1 expression yielded transformants that released non-flagellate, non-motile zoospores from their sporangia. Our observations indicate that zoospore motility is not required for zoospore release from P. nicotianae sporangia or for breakage of the evanescent vesicle into which zoospores are initially discharged.
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