As the dominant fungus during the fermentation of Fuzhuan brick tea, Aspergillus cristatus is easily induced to undergo a sexual cycle under low-salt stress. However, the underlying regulatory mechanism of sexual reproduction is unclear. Here, we report a P53-like transcription factor AcndtA, which encodes an NDT80 DNA binding protein and regulates fungal reproduction, pigmentation and the stress response. Both insertion and deletion mutants of AcndtA exhibited a complete blockade of cleistothecium formation, and overexpressing AcndtA strains (OE: AcndtA) exhibited significantly reduced cleistothecium production, indicating that AcndtA plays a vital role in sexual development. Osmotic stress tests showed that overexpression of AcndtA had a negative impact on growth and conidia production. Additionally, AcndtA insertion, deletion and overexpression mutants exhibited reduced pigment formation. All the above developmental defects were reversed by the re-introduction of the AcndtA gene in ΔAcndtA. Moreover, the growth of AcndtA mutants in carbon-limited medium was better than that of the WT and OE: AcndtA strains, indicating that AcndtA is involved in carbon metabolism. Transcriptional profiling data showed that AcndtA regulated the expression of several genes related to development, osmotic stress and carbon metabolism.
Keywords: Asexual sporulation; NDT80; RNA-Seq; Sexual development.
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