Six transcription regulatory genes of the Verticillium plant pathogen, which reprogrammed nonadherent budding yeasts for adhesion, were isolated by a genetic screen to identify control elements for early plant infection.Verticillium transcription activator of adhesion Vta2 is highly conserved in filamentous fungi but not present in yeasts. The Magnaporthe grisea ortholog conidiation regulator Con7 controls the formation of appressoria which are absent in Verticillium species. Vta2 was analyzed by using genetics, cell biology, transcriptomics, secretome proteomics and plant pathogenicity assays.Nuclear Vta2 activates the expression of the adhesin-encoding yeast flocculin genes FLO1 and FLO11. Vta2 is required for fungal growth of Verticillium where it is a positive regulator of conidiation. Vta2 is mandatory for accurate timing and suppression of microsclerotia as resting structures. Vta2 controls expression of 270 transcripts, including 10 putative genes for adhesins and 57 for secreted proteins. Vta2 controls the level of 125 secreted proteins, including putative adhesins or effector molecules and a secreted catalase-peroxidase. Vta2 is a major regulator of fungal pathogenesis, and controls host-plant root infection and H2O2 detoxification.Verticillium impaired in Vta2 is unable to colonize plants and induce disease symptoms. Vta2 represents an interesting target for controlling the growth and development of these vascular pathogens.
Via Christophe Jacquet