Red fluorescent proteins for imaging Zymoseptoria tritici during invasion of wheat

Fungal Genet Biol. 2015 Jun;79:132-40. doi: 10.1016/j.fgb.2015.03.025.


The use of fluorescent proteins (FPs) in plant pathogenic fungi provides valuable insight into their intracellular dynamics, cell organization and invasion mechanisms. Compared with green-fluorescent proteins, their red-fluorescent "cousins" show generally lower fluorescent signal intensity and increased photo-bleaching. However, the combined usage of red and green fluorescent proteins allows powerful insight in co-localization studies. Efficient signal detection requires a bright red-fluorescent protein (RFP), combined with a suitable corresponding filter set. We provide a set of four vectors, suitable for yeast recombination-based cloning that carries mRFP, TagRFP, mCherry and tdTomato. These vectors confer carboxin resistance after targeted single-copy integration into the sdi1 locus of Zymoseptoria tritici. Expression of the RFPs does not affect virulence of this wheat pathogen. We tested all four RFPs in combination with four epi-fluorescence filter sets and in confocal laser scanning microscopy, both in and ex planta. Our data reveal that mCherry is the RFP of choice for investigation in Z. tritici, showing highest signal intensity in epi-fluorescence, when used with a Cy3 filter set, and laser scanning confocal microscopy. However, mCherry bleached significantly faster than mRFP, which favors this red tag in long-term observation experiments. Finally, we used dual-color imaging of eGFP and mCherry expressing wild-type strains in planta and show that pycnidia are formed by single strains. This demonstrates the strength of this method in tracking the course of Z. tritici infection in wheat.

Keywords: Colocalization; Mycosphaerella graminicola; Protein localization; Red fluorescent protein; Septoria tritici blotch; Wheat pathogenic fungus.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Ascomycota / growth & development*
  • Ascomycota / pathogenicity
  • Gene Expression
  • Genes, Reporter*
  • Genetic Vectors
  • Luminescent Proteins / analysis*
  • Luminescent Proteins / genetics*
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence / methods
  • Plant Diseases / microbiology*
  • Recombination, Genetic
  • Staining and Labeling / methods*
  • Transformation, Genetic
  • Triticum / microbiology*
  • Virulence


  • Luminescent Proteins
  • red fluorescent protein