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1.  Operons 
Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences   2009;66(23):3755-3775.
Operons (clusters of co-regulated genes with related functions) are common features of bacterial genomes. More recently, functional gene clustering has been reported in eukaryotes, from yeasts to filamentous fungi, plants, and animals. Gene clusters can consist of paralogous genes that have most likely arisen by gene duplication. However, there are now many examples of eukaryotic gene clusters that contain functionally related but non-homologous genes and that represent functional gene organizations with operon-like features (physical clustering and co-regulation). These include gene clusters for use of different carbon and nitrogen sources in yeasts, for production of antibiotics, toxins, and virulence determinants in filamentous fungi, for production of defense compounds in plants, and for innate and adaptive immunity in animals (the major histocompatibility locus). The aim of this article is to review features of functional gene clusters in prokaryotes and eukaryotes and the significance of clustering for effective function.
PMCID: PMC2776167  PMID: 19662496
Metabolism; Natural products; Antibiotics; Pathogens; Defense; Chromatin; Development; Innate and adaptive immunity
2.  Fungal Resistance to Plant Antibiotics as a Mechanism of Pathogenesis 
Many plants produce low-molecular-weight compounds which inhibit the growth of phytopathogenic fungi in vitro. These compounds may be preformed inhibitors that are present constitutively in healthy plants (also known as phytoanticipins), or they may be synthesized in response to pathogen attack (phytoalexins). Successful pathogens must be able to circumvent or overcome these antifungal defenses, and this review focuses on the significance of fungal resistance to plant antibiotics as a mechanism of pathogenesis. There is increasing evidence that resistance of fungal pathogens to plant antibiotics can be important for pathogenicity, at least for some fungus-plant interactions. This evidence has emerged largely from studies of fungal degradative enzymes and also from experiments in which plants with altered levels of antifungal secondary metabolites were generated. Whereas the emphasis to date has been on degradative mechanisms of resistance of phytopathogenic fungi to antifungal secondary metabolites, in the future we are likely to see a rapid expansion in our knowledge of alternative mechanisms of resistance. These may include membrane efflux systems of the kind associated with multidrug resistance and innate resistance due to insensitivity of the target site. The manipulation of plant biosynthetic pathways to give altered antibiotic profiles will also be valuable in telling us more about the significance of antifungal secondary metabolites for plant defense and clearly has great potential for enhancing disease resistance for commercial purposes.
PMCID: PMC103751  PMID: 10477313
3.  Isolation, Characterization, and Avenacin Sensitivity of a Diverse Collection of Cereal-Root-Colonizing Fungi 
A total of 161 fungal isolates were obtained from the surface-sterilized roots of field-grown oat and wheat plants in order to investigate the nature of the root-colonizing fungi supported by these two cereals. Fungi were initially grouped according to their colony morphologies and then were further characterized by ribosomal DNA sequence analysis. The collection contained a wide range of ascomycetes and also some basidiomycete fungi. The fungi were subsequently assessed for their abilities to tolerate and degrade the antifungal oat root saponin, avenacin A-1. Nearly all the fungi obtained from oat roots were avenacin A-1 resistant, while both avenacin-sensitive and avenacin-resistant fungi were isolated from the roots of the non-saponin-producing cereal, wheat. The majority of the avenacin-resistant fungi were able to degrade avenacin A-1. These experiments suggest that avenacin A-1 is likely to influence the development of fungal communities within (and possibly also around) oat roots.
PMCID: PMC91506  PMID: 10427021

Results 1-3 (3)