For more than a century, fungal pathogens and symbionts have been known to orient hyphal growth towards chemical stimuli from the host plant. However, the nature of the plant signals as well as the mechanisms underlying the chemotropic response have remained elusive. Here we show that directed growth of the soil-inhabiting plant pathogen Fusarium oxysporum towards the roots of the host tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) is triggered by the catalytic activity of secreted class III peroxidases, a family of haem-containing enzymes present in all land plants. The chemotropic response requires conserved elements of the fungal cell integrity mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) cascade and the seven-pass transmembrane protein Ste2, a functional homologue of the Saccharomyces cerevisiae sex pheromone α receptor. We further show that directed hyphal growth of F. oxysporum towards nutrient sources such as sugars and amino acids is governed by a functionally distinct MAPK cascade. These results reveal a potentially conserved chemotropic mechanism in root-colonizing fungi, and suggest a new function for the fungal pheromone-sensing machinery in locating plant hosts in a complex environment such as the soil.
As the oomycete pathogen causing potato late blight disease, Phytophthora infestans triggered the famous 19th-century Irish potato famine and remains the leading cause of global commercial potato crop destruction. But the geographic origin of the genotype that caused this devastating initial outbreak remains disputed, as does the New World center of origin of the species itself. Both Mexico and South America have been proposed, generating considerable controversy. Here, we readdress the pathogen’s origins using a genomic dataset encompassing 71 globally-sourced modern and historical samples of P. infestans and the hybrid species P. andina, a close relative known only from the Andean highlands. Previous studies have suggested that the nuclear DNA lineage behind the initial outbreaks in Europe in 1845 is now extinct. Analysis of P. andina’s phased haplotypes recovered eight haploid genome sequences, four of which represent a previously unknown basal lineage of P. infestans closely related to the famine-era lineage. Our analyses further reveal that clonal lineages of both P. andina and historical P. infestans diverged earlier than modern Mexican lineages, casting doubt on recent claims of a Mexican center of origin. Finally, we use haplotype phasing to demonstrate that basal branches of the clade comprising Mexican samples are occupied by clonal isolates collected from wild Solanum hosts, suggesting that modern Mexican P. infestans diversified on S. tuberosum after a host jump from a wild species and that the origins of P. infestans are more complex than was previously thought.
Plant pathogens have the capacity to manipulate the host immune system through the secretion of effectors. We identified 27 putative effector proteins encoded in the genome of the maize anthracnose pathogen Colletotrichum graminicola that are likely to target the host’s nucleus as they simultaneously contain sequence signatures for secretion and nuclear localization. We functionally characterized one protein identified as CgEP1. This protein is synthesized during the early stages of disease development and is necessary for anthracnose development in maize leaves, stems and roots. Genetic, molecular and biochemical studies confirmed that this effector targets the host’s nucleus, and defines a novel class of dsDNA-binding protein. We show that CgEP1 arose from a gene duplication in an ancestor of a lineage of monocot-infecting Colletotrichum spp. and has undergone an intense evolution process with evidence for episodes of positive selection. We detected CgEP1 homologs in several species of a grass infecting lineage of Colletotrichum spp. suggesting that its function may be conserved across a large number of anthracnose pathogens. Our results demonstrate that effectors targeted to the host nucleus may be key elements for disease development, and aid in the understanding of the genetic basis of anthracnose development in maize plants.
HighlightThe plant-associated microbiome has a close symbiotic relationship with its host and should therefore be recognized as an additional factor in experimental botany and modern breeding strategies.
Publication date: December 2015 Source:Current Opinion in Plant Biology, Volume 28 Author(s): Xiaofeng Chen, Daniel J Ebbole, Zonghua Wang Regulated by several small GTPases, the octameric exocyst complex directs the docking and...
Rust fungal pathogens of wheat (Triticum spp.) affect crop yields worldwide. The molecular mechanisms underlying the virulence of these pathogens remain elusive, due to the limited availability of suitable molecular genetic research tools. Notably, the inability to perform high-throughput analyses of candidate virulence proteins (also known as effectors) impairs progress. We previously established a pipeline for the fast-forward screens of rust fungal effectors in the model plant Nicotiana benthamiana. This pipeline involves selecting candidate effectors in silico and performing cell biology and protein-protein interaction assays in planta to gain insight into the putative functions of candidate effectors. In this study, we used this pipeline to identify and characterize sixteen candidate effectors from the wheat yellow rust fungal pathogen Puccinia striiformis f sp tritici. Nine candidate effectors targeted a specific plant subcellular compartment or protein complex, providing valuable information on their putative functions in plant cells. One candidate effector, PST02549, accumulated in processing bodies (P-bodies), protein complexes involved in mRNA decapping, degradation, and storage. PST02549 also associates with the P-body-resident ENHANCER OF mRNA DECAPPING PROTEIN 4 (EDC4) from N. benthamiana and wheat. Our work identifies P-bodies as a novel plant cell compartment targeted by pathogen effectors.
Fungi are major players in the carbon cycle in forest ecosystems due to the wide range of interactions they have with plants either through soil degradation processes by litter decayers or biotrophic interactions with pathogenic and ectomycorrhizal symbionts. Secretion of fungal proteins mediates these interactions by allowing the fungus to interact with its environment and/or host. Ectomycorrhizal (ECM) symbiosis independently appeared several times throughout evolution and involves approximately 80% of trees. Despite extensive physiological studies on ECM symbionts, little is known about the composition and specificities of their secretomes. In this study, we used a bioinformatics pipeline to predict and analyze the secretomes of 49 fungal species, including 11 ECM fungi, wood and soil decayers and pathogenic fungi to tackle the following questions: (1) Are there differences between the secretomes of saprophytic and ECM fungi? (2) Are small-secreted proteins (SSPs) more abundant in biotrophic fungi than in saprophytic fungi? and (3) Are there SSPs shared between ECM, saprotrophic and pathogenic fungi? We showed that the number of predicted secreted proteins is similar in the surveyed species, independently of their lifestyle. The secretome from ECM fungi is characterized by a restricted number of secreted CAZymes, but their repertoires of secreted proteases and lipases are similar to those of saprotrophic fungi. Focusing on SSPs, we showed that the secretome of ECM fungi is enriched in SSPs compared with other species. Most of the SSPs are coded by orphan genes with no known PFAM domain or similarities to known sequences in databases. Finally, based on the clustering analysis, we identified shared- and lifestyle-specific SSPs between saprotrophic and ECM fungi. The presence of SSPs is not limited to fungi interacting with living plants as the genome of saprotrophic fungi also code for numerous SSPs. ECM fungi shared lifestyle-specific SSPs likely involved in symbiosis that are good candidates for further functional analyses.
Evans Lagudah and colleagues report that variation in a gene encoding a hexose transporter confers resistance to multiple pathogens in wheat. They further show that the variant protein encoded by the resistance allele exerts a dominant-negative effect by heterodimerizing with functional hexose transporters, resulting in reduced glucose uptake.
The Avrk1 and Avra10 avirulence (AVR) genes encode effectors that increase the pathogenicity of the fungus Blumeria graminis f.sp. hordei (Bgh), the powdery mildew pathogen, in susceptible barley plants. In resistant barley, MLK1 and MLA10 resistance proteins recognize the presence of AVRK1 and AVRA10, eliciting the hypersensitive response typical of gene for gene interactions. Avrk1 and Avra10 have more than 1350 homologues in Bgh genome, forming the EKA (Effectors homologous to Avrk 1 and Avr a 10) gene family.
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