The genomes of Colletotrichum orbiculare, which infects cucurbits and Nicotiana benthamiana, and C. gloeosporioides, which infects a wide range of crops, were sequenced and analyzed, focusing on features with potential roles in pathogenicity. Regulation of C. orbiculare gene expression was investigated during infection of N. benthamiana using a custom microarray.
Genes expanded in both genomes compared to other fungi included sequences encoding small, secreted proteins (SSPs), secondary metabolite synthesis genes, proteases and carbohydrate-degrading enzymes. Many SSP and secondary metabolite synthesis genes were upregulated during initial stages of host colonization, whereas the necrotrophic stage of growth is characterized by upregulation of sequences encoding degradative enzymes.
Hemibiotrophy in C. orbiculare is characterized by distinct stage-specific gene expression profiles of expanded classes of potential pathogenicity genes.