Alder decline has been a problem along European watercourses since the early 1990s. Hybridization was identified as the main cause of this emerging disease. Indeed, the causal agent, a soil-borne pathogen named Phytophthora alni subsp. alni (Paa) is the result of interspecific hybridization between two taxa,Phytophthora alni subsp. multiformis (Pam) and Phytophthora alni subsp. uniformis (Pau), initially identified as subspecies of Paa. The aim of this work was to characterize the ploidy level within the P. alni complex that is presently poorly understood. For that, we used two complementary approaches for a set of 31 isolates of Paa, Pam and Pau: (i) quantification of allele copy number of three single-copy nuclear genes using allele-specific real-time PCR and (ii) comparison of the genome size estimated by flow cytometry. Relative quantification of alleles of the three single-copy genes showed that the copy number of a given allele in Paawas systematically half that of its parents Pau or Pam. Moreover, DNA content estimated by flow cytometry in Paa was equal to half the sum of those in Pam and Pau. Our results therefore suggest that the hybrid Paais an allotriploid species, containing half of the genome of each of its parents Pam and Pau, which in turn are considered to be allotetraploid and diploid, respectively. Paa thus results from a homoploid speciation process. Based on published data and on results from this study, a new formal taxonomic name is proposed for the three taxa Paa, Pam and Pau which are raised to species status and renamed P. ×alni, P.×multiformis and P. uniformis, respectively.
Mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) cascades play central roles in innate immune signalling networks in plants and animals. In plants, however, the molecular mechanisms of how signal perception is transduced to MAPK activation remain elusive. Here we report that pathogen-secreted proteases activate a previously unknown signalling pathway in Arabidopsis thaliana involving the G[agr], G[bgr], and G[ggr] subunits of heterotrimeric G-protein complexes, which function upstream of an MAPK cascade. In this pathway, receptor for activated C kinase 1 (RACK1) functions as a novel scaffold that binds to the G[bgr] subunit as well as to all three tiers of the MAPK cascade, thereby linking upstream G-protein signalling to downstream activation of an MAPK cascade. The protease-G-protein-RACK1-MAPK cascade modules identified in these studies are distinct from previously described plant immune signalling pathways such as that elicited by bacterial flagellin, in which G proteins function downstream of or in parallel to an MAPK cascade without the involvement of the RACK1 scaffolding protein. The discovery of the new protease-mediated immune signalling pathway described here was facilitated by the use of the broad host range, opportunistic bacterial pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa. The ability of P. aeruginosa to infect both plants and animals makes it an excellent model to identify novel immunoregulatory strategies that account for its niche adaptation to diverse host tissues and immune systems.
Plant root rhizosphere interactions with mutualistic microbes are diverse and numerous, having evolved over time in response to selective pressures on plants to attain anchorage and nutrients. These relationships can be considered to be formed through a combination of architectural connections: molecular architecture interactions that control root–microbe perception and regulate the balance between host and symbiont and developmental architecture interactions that enable the microbes to be ‘housed’ in the root and enable the exchange of compounds. Recent findings that help to understand the common architecture that exists between nodulation and mycorrhizal interactions, and how this architecture could be re-tuned to develop new symbioses, are discussed here.
Phytohormones play an important role in development and stress adaptations in plants, and several interacting hormonal pathways have been suggested to accomplish fine-tuning of stress responses at the expense of growth. This work describes the role played by the CALCIUM-DEPENDENT PROTEIN KINASE CPK28 in balancing phytohormone-mediated development in Arabidopsis thaliana, specifically during generative growth. cpk28 mutants exhibit growth reduction solely as adult plants, coinciding with altered balance of the phytohormones jasmonic acid (JA) and gibberellic acid (GA). JA-dependent gene expression and the levels of several JA metabolites were elevated in a growth phase-dependent manner in cpk28, and accumulation of JA metabolites was confined locally to the central rosette tissue. No elevated resistance toward herbivores or necrotrophic pathogens was detected for cpk28 plants, either on the whole-plant level or specifically within the tissue displaying elevated JA levels. Abolishment of JA biosynthesis or JA signaling led to a full reversion of the cpk28 growth phenotype, while modification of GA signaling did not. Our data identify CPK28 as a growth phase-dependent key negative regulator of distinct processes: While in seedlings, CPK28 regulates reactive oxygen species-mediated defense signaling; in adult plants, CPK28 confers developmental processes by the tissue-specific balance of JA and GA without affecting JA-mediated defense responses.
The fungus Verticillium longisporum is a soil-borne plant pathogen of increasing economic importance, and information on plant responses to it is limited. To identify the genes and components involved in the early stages of infection, transcripts in roots of V. longisporum-challenged Arabidopsis Col-0 and the susceptible NON-RACE SPECIFIC DISEASE RESISTANCE 1 (ndr1-1) mutant were compared using ATH1 gene chips. The analysis revealed altered transcript levels of several terpene biosynthesis genes, including the monoterpene synthase TPS23/27. When transgenic 35S:TPS23/27 and TPS23/27-amiRNA plants were monitored the over-expresser line showed enhanced fungal colonization whereas the silenced genotype was indistinguishable from Col-0. Transcript analysis of terpene biosynthesis genes suggested that only the TPS23/27 pathway is affected in the two transgenic genotypes. To confirm changes in monoterpene production, emitted volatiles were determined using solid-phase microextraction and gas chromatography–mass spectrometry. Levels of all identified TPS23/27 monoterpene products were significantly altered in the transgenic plants. A stimulatory effect on conidial germination and hyphal growth of V. longisporum was also seen in co-cultivation with 35S:TPS23/27 plants and upon exposure to 1,8-cineole, the main product of TPS23/27. Methyl jasmonate treatments of myc2-1 and myc2-2 mutants and analysis of TPS23/27:uidA in the myc2-2 background suggested a dependence on jasmonic acid mediated by the transcription factor MYC2. Taken together, our results show that TPS23/27-produced monoterpenes stimulate germination and subsequent invasion of V. longisporum in Arabidopsis roots.
The modification of proteins by the attachment of fatty acids is a targeting tactic involved in mechanisms of both plant immunity and bacterial pathogenesis. The plant plasma membrane (PM) is a key battleground in the war against disease-causing microbes. This membrane is armed with an array of sensor proteins that function as a surveillance system to detect invading pathogens. Several of these sensor proteins are directed to the plasma membrane through the covalent addition of fatty acids, a process termed fatty acylation. Phytopathogens secrete effector proteins into the plant cell to subvert these surveillance mechanisms, rendering the host susceptible to infection. The targeting of effectors to specific locales within plant cells, particularly the internal face of the host PM, is critical for their virulence function. Several bacterial effectors hijack the host fatty acylation machinery to be modified and directed to this contested locale. To find and fight these fatty acylated effectors the plant leverages lipid-modified intracellular sensors. This review provides examples featuring how fatty acylation is a battle tactic used by both combatants in the molecular arms race between plants and pathogens. Also highlighted is the exploitation of a specific form of host-mediated fatty acid modification, which appears to be exclusively employed by phytopathogenic effector proteins.
In this paper we describe PATTERN-TRIGGERED IMMUNITY (PTI) COMPROMISED RECEPTOR-LIKE CYTOPLASMIC KINASE 1 (PCRK1) of Arabidopsis thaliana, an RLCK that is important for defense against the pathogen Pseudomonas syringae pv. maculicola ES4326 (Pma ES4326).We examined defense responses such as bacterial growth, production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and callose deposition in pcrk1 mutant plants to determine the role of PCRK1 during pathogen infection.Expression of PCRK1 was induced following pathogen infection. Pathogen growth was significantly higher in pcrk1 mutant lines than in wild-type Col-0. Mutant pcrk1 plants showed reduced pattern-triggered immunity (PTI) against Pma ES4326 after pretreatment with peptides derived from flagellin (flg22), elongation factor-Tu (elf18), or an endogenous protein (pep1). Deposition of callose was reduced in pcrk1 plants, indicating a role of PCRK1 in activation of early immune responses. A PCRK1 transgene containing a mutation in a conserved lysine residue important for phosphorylation activity of kinases (K118E) failed to complement a pcrk1 mutant for the Pma ES4326 growth phenotype.Our study shows that PCRK1 plays an important role during PTI and that a conserved lysine residue in the putative kinase domain is important for PCRK1 function.
Pattern recognition receptors (PRRs) detect microbial pathogens and trigger innate immune responses. Previous biochemical studies have elucidated the physiological functions of eleven PRRs in Manduca sexta but our understanding of the recognition process is still limited, lacking genomic perspectives. While 34 C-type lectin-domain proteins and 16 Toll-like receptors are reported in the companion papers, we present here 120 other putative PRRs identified through the genome annotation. These include 76 leucine-rich repeat (LRR) proteins, 14 peptidoglycan recognition proteins, 6 EGF/Nim-domain proteins, 5 β-1,3-glucanase-related proteins, 4 galectins, 4 fibrinogen-related proteins, 3 thioester proteins, 5 immunoglobulin-domain proteins, 2 hemocytins, and 1 Reeler. Sequence alignment and phylogenetic analysis reveal the evolution history of a diverse repertoire of proteins for pathogen recognition. While functions of insect LRR proteins are mostly unknown, their structure diversification is phenomenal: In addition to the Toll homologs, 22 LRR proteins with a signal peptide are expected to be secreted; 18 LRR proteins lacking signal peptides may be cytoplasmic; 36 LRRs with a signal peptide and a transmembrane segment may be non-Toll receptors on the surface of cells. Expression profiles of the 120 genes in 52 tissue samples reflect complex regulation in various developmental stages and physiological states, including some likely by Rel family transcription factors via κB motifs in the promoter regions. This collection of information is expected to facilitate future biochemical studies detailing their respective roles in this model insect.
The 2015 Molecular Biology of Plant Pathogens (MBPP) conference will be held at the University of the West of England (UWE), Bristol on the 8th-9th April 2015. This will be the 23rd MBPP conference!
UWE is the largest university in the South West of England with over 30,000 students and approximately 3,500 staff. UWE has a long and interesting history starting life as a Merchant Venturer’s Navigation College in 1595 and undergoing many changes before gaining University status in 1992. Today UWE attracts students from all over the UK as well as a significant number of international students from 140 countries worldwide.
UWE has an active research community which makes a significant contribution to advances in industry, commerce, health and technology both nationally and internationally. The organisers of this years’ MBPP conference, Professor Dawn Arnold, Dr Carrie Brady and Dr Helen Neale work within the Centre for Research in Bioscience (CRIB) which leads world-class research in areas of strategic importance including plant science, agri-food, bio-sensing and biomedicine.
MBPP provides an excellent forum for networking between junior and senior scientists. The primary focus is on providing PhD students and post-doctoral scientists the opportunity to give oral presentations in front of a wide range of national and international researchers.
There will also be three keynote talks by internationally renowned scientists Professor Pietro Spanu (Imperial College), Dr Chris Ridout (John Innes Centre) and Professor Teresa Coutinho (Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute, University of Pretoria, South Africa). Please see our biographies tab for more information on these speakers.
Field pathogenomics adds highly informative data to surveillance surveys by enabling rapid evaluation of pathogen variability, population structure and host genotype.
Yellow rust, caused by Puccinia striiformis f. sp. tritici (PST), is a major disease of wheat and, together with stem rust (Puccinia graminis) and leaf rust (Puccinia triticina), causes some of the most devastating epidemics on wheat worldwide . Control of these rust pathogens relies predominantly on breeding and deployment of resistant varieties of wheat. To date, nearly 200 wheat-rust-resistance genes have been catalogued ; however, resistance has often proved to be ephemeral owing to changes in the pathogen population. In order to increase the durability of resistance, gene-deployment strategies need to consider extant and potential pathogen variability. Although these concepts are not new , their implementation was difficult until the advent of high-throughput sequencing (HTS) and genotyping technologies.
Next-generation sequencing technologies provide new opportunities to study pathogens and the hosts they infect. The increasing availability of crop and pathogen genomes  is providing new insights into pathogen biology, population structure and pathogenesis. This provides new opportunities for disease management. An important input into resistance breeding programs should be surveillance of the pathogen population. High-throughput pathogenomics offers the possibility for analyzing a large number of pathogen isolates and host varieties rapidly and at low cost.
In an article published in Genome Biology, Hubbard and colleagues  implemented a robust and rapid method to screen field isolates of PST and their host cultivars. In this particular version of pathogenomics, a selected set of 39 samples of infected wheat and triticale leaf tissue were collected directly from the field in 2013 and analyzed using RNAseq. In addition, the genomes of 21 archived PST isolates from the UK and France were also sequenced. Transcriptome analysis restricted the amount of sequence necessary to obtain diagnostic information for both host and pathogen; this not only accelerated genetic analysis of PST populations in situ but also allowed simultaneous assessment of the host genotype in the same sequencing runs. Another advantage of transcriptome analysis is that it detects genes being expressed and therefore the determinants of the interaction; thus, non-expressed genes present in the genome do not obscure genotype-phenotype correlations.
Mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) cascades play central roles in innate immune signalling networks in plants and animals. In plants, however, the molecular mechanisms of how signal perception is transduced to MAPK activation remain elusive.
Research fields of plant symbiosis and plant immunity were relatively ignorant with each other until a little while ago. Recently, however, increasing intercommunications between those two fields have begun to provide novel aspects and knowledge for understanding relationships between plants and microorganisms. Here, we review recent reports on plant–microbe interactions, focusing on the infection processes, in order to elucidate plant cellular responses that are triggered by both symbionts and pathogens. Highlighting the core elements of host responses over biotic interactions will provide insights into general mechanisms of plant–microbe interactions.
New research results have significantly revised our understanding of the rhizobium–legume infection process. For example, Nod factors (NFs), previously thought to be absolutely essential for this symbiosis, were shown to be dispensable under particular conditions. Similarly, an NF receptor, previously considered to be solely involved in symbiosis, was shown to function during plant pathogen infections. Indeed, there is a growing realization that plant innate immunity is a crucial component in the establishment and maintenance of symbiosis. We review here the factors involved in the suppression of plant immunity during rhizobium–legume symbiosis, and we attempt to place this information into context with the most recent and sometimes surprising research results.
Benjamin Gourion, Fathi Berrabah, Pascal Ratet, Gary Stacey
Many animal and plant pathogenic bacteria inject type III effector (T3E) proteins into their eukaryotic host cells to suppress immunity. The YopJ-family of T3Es is a widely distributed family of effector proteins found in both, animal and plant pathogens and its members are highly diversified in virulence functions. Some members have been shown to possess acetyltransferase activity; however, whether this is a general feature of YopJ-family T3Es is currently unknown. The T3E XopJ, a YopJ-family effector from the plant pathogen Xanthomonas campestris pv. vesicatoria, interacts with the proteasomal subunit RPT6 in planta to suppress proteasome activity resulting in the inhibition of salicylic acid (SA)-related immune responses. Here we show that XopJ has protease activity to specifically degrade RPT6, leading to reduced proteasome activity in the cytoplasm as well as in the nucleus. Proteolytic degradation of RPT6 was dependent on localization of XopJ to the plasma membrane as well as on its catalytic triad. Mutation of the Walker-B motif of RPT6 prevented XopJ-mediated degradation of the protein but not XopJ interaction. This indicates that interaction of RPT6 with XopJ is dependent on ATP-binding activity of RPT6 but proteolytic cleavage additionally requires its ATPase activity. Inhibition of the proteasome impairs the proteasomal turnover of NPR1, the master regulator of SA responses, leading to the accumulation of ubiquitinated NPR1 which likely interferes with full induction of NPR1 target genes. Our results show that YopJ-family T3Es are not only highly diversified in virulence function, but also appear to possess different biochemical activities.
Background Emerging and re-emerging pathogens imperil public health and global food security. Responding to these threats requires improved surveillance and diagnostic systems. Despite their potential, genomic tools have not been readily applied to emerging or re-emerging plant pathogens such as the wheat yellow (stripe) rust pathogen Puccinia striiformis f. sp. tritici (PST). This is due largely to the obligate parasitic nature of PST, as culturing PST isolates for DNA extraction remains slow and tedious.
Results To counteract the limitations associated with culturing PST, we developed and applied a field pathogenomics approach by transcriptome sequencing infected wheat leaves collected from the field in 2013. This enabled us to rapidly gain insights into this emerging pathogen population. We found that the PST population across the United Kingdom (UK) underwent a major shift in recent years. Population genetic structure analyses revealed four distinct lineages that correlated to the phenotypic groups determined through traditional pathology-based virulence assays. Furthermore, the genetic diversity between members of a single population cluster for all 2013 PST field samples was much higher than that displayed by historical UK isolates, revealing a more diverse population of PST.
Conclusions Our field pathogenomics approach uncovered a dramatic shift in the PST population in the UK, likely due to a recent introduction of a diverse set of exotic PST lineages. The methodology described herein accelerates genetic analysis of pathogen populations and circumvents the difficulties associated with obligate plant pathogens. In principle, this strategy can be widely applied to a variety of plant pathogens.
Strand specific RNAseq data is now more common in RNAseq projects. Visualizing RNAseq data has become an important matter in Analysis of sequencing data. The most widely used visualization tool is the UCSC genome browser that introduced the custom track concept that enabled researchers to simultaneously visualize gene expression at a particular locus from multiple experiments. Our objective of the software tool is to provide friendly interface for visualization of RNAseq datasets.
Accumulation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) is one of the early defense responses against pathogen infection in plants. The mechanism about the initial and direct regulation of the defense signaling pathway by ROS remains elusive. Perturbation of cellular redox homeostasis by ROS is believed to alter functions of redox-sensitive proteins through their oxidative modifications. Here we report an OxiTRAQ-based proteomic study in identifying proteins whose cysteines underwent oxidative modifications in Arabidopsis cells during the early response to salicylate or flg22, two defense pathway elicitors that are known to disturb cellular redox homeostasis. Among the salicylate- and/or flg22-responsive redox-sensitive proteins are those involved in transcriptional regulation, chromatin remodeling, RNA processing, post-translational modifications, and nucleocytoplasmic shuttling. The identification of the salicylate-/flg22-responsive redox-sensitive proteins provides a foundation from which further study can be conducted toward understanding biological significance of their oxidative modifications during the plant defense response.
Symbiotic nitrogen fixation is a process of considerable economic, ecological and scientific interest. The central enzyme nitrogenase reduces H+ alongside N2, and the evolving H2 allows a continuous and non-invasive in vivo measurement of nitrogenase activity. The objective of this study was to show that an elaborated set-up providing such measurements for periods as long as several weeks will produce specific insight into the nodule activity's dependence on environmental conditions and genotype features. A system was developed that allows the air-proof separation of a root/nodule and a shoot compartment. H2 evolution in the root/nodule compartment can be monitored continuously. Nutrient solution composition, temperature, CO2 concentration and humidity around the shoots can concomitantly be maintained and manipulated. Medicago truncatula plants showed vigorous growth in the system when relying on nitrogen fixation. The set-up was able to provide specific insights into nitrogen fixation. For example, nodule activity depended on the temperature in their surroundings, but not on temperature or light around shoots. Increased temperature around the nodules was able to induce higher nodule activity in darkness versus light around shoots for a period of as long as 8 h. Conditions that affected the N demand of the shoots (ammonium application, Mg or P depletion, super numeric nodules) induced consistent and complex daily rhythms in nodule activity. It was shown that long-term continuous measurements of nodule activity could be useful for revealing special features in mutants and could be of importance when synchronizing nodule harvests for complex analysis of their metabolic status.
The sensing of microbe-associated molecular patterns (MAMPs) triggers innate immunity in animals and plants. Lipopolysaccharide (LPS) from Gram-negative bacteria is a potent MAMP for mammals, with the lipid A moiety activating proinflammatory responses via Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4). Here we found that the plant Arabidopsis thaliana specifically sensed LPS of Pseudomonas and Xanthomonas. We isolated LPS-insensitive mutants defective in the bulb-type lectin S-domain-1 receptor–like kinase LORE (SD1-29), which were hypersusceptible to infection with Pseudomonas syringae. Targeted chemical degradation of LPS from Pseudomonas species suggested that LORE detected mainly the lipid A moiety of LPS. LORE conferred sensitivity to LPS onto tobacco after transient expression, which demonstrated a key function in LPS sensing and indicated the possibility of engineering resistance to bacteria in crop species.
GhNPR1 shares similar functions as Arabidopsis NPR1 . Silencing of GhNPR1 in Gladiolus results in an enhanced susceptibility to Curvularia gladioli. We propose that GhNPR1 plays important roles in plant immunity. Abstract
Gladiolus plants and corms are susceptible to various types of pathogens including fungi, bacteria and viruses. Understanding the innate defense mechanism in Gladiolus is a prerequisite for the development of new protection strategies. The non-expressor of pathogenesis-related gene 1 (NPR1) and bzip transcription factor TGA2 play a key role in regulating salicylic acid (SA)-mediated systemic acquired resistance (SAR). In this study, the homologous genes, GhNPR1 and GhTGA2, were isolated from Gladiolus and functionally characterized. Expression of GhNPR1 exhibited a 3.8-fold increase in Gladiolus leaves following salicylic acid treatment. A 1332 bp fragment of the GhNPR1 promoter from Gladiolus hybridus was identified. Inducibility of the GhNPR1 promoter by SA was demonstrated using transient expression assays in the leaves of Nicotiana benthamiana. The GhNPR1 protein is located in the nucleus and cytomembrane. GhNPR1 interacts with GhTGA2, as observed using the bimolecular fluorescence complementation system. Overexpression of GhNPR1 in an Arabidopsis npr1 mutant can restore its basal resistance to Pseudomonas syringae pv. tomato DC3000. Silencing of GhNPR1, using a tobacco rattle virus-based silencing vector, resulted in an enhanced susceptibility to Curvularia gladioli. In conclusion, these results suggest that GhNPR1 plays a pivotal role in the SA-dependent systemic acquired resistance in Gladiolus.
Mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) cascades play central roles in innate immune signalling networks in plants and animals1, 2. In plants, however, the molecular mechanisms of how signal perception is transduced to MAPK activation remain elusive1. Here we report that pathogen-secreted proteases activate a previously unknown signalling pathway in Arabidopsis thaliana involving the Gα, Gβ, and Gγ subunits of heterotrimeric G-protein complexes, which function upstream of an MAPK cascade. In this pathway, receptor for activated C kinase 1 (RACK1) functions as a novel scaffold that binds to the Gβ subunit as well as to all three tiers of the MAPK cascade, thereby linking upstream G-protein signalling to downstream activation of an MAPK cascade. The protease–G-protein–RACK1–MAPK cascade modules identified in these studies are distinct from previously described plant immune signalling pathways such as that elicited by bacterial flagellin, in which G proteins function downstream of or in parallel to an MAPK cascade without the involvement of the RACK1 scaffolding protein. The discovery of the new protease-mediated immune signalling pathway described here was facilitated by the use of the broad host range, opportunistic bacterial pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa. The ability of P. aeruginosa to infect both plants and animals makes it an excellent model to identify novel immunoregulatory strategies that account for its niche adaptation to diverse host tissues and immune systems.
Plant-specific NAC transcription factors (TFs) constitute a large family and play important roles in regulating plant developmental processes and responses to environmental stresses, but only some of them have been investigated for effects on disease reaction in cereal crops. Virus-induced gene silencing (VIGS) is an effective strategy for rapid functional analysis of genes in plant tissues. In this study, TaNAC1, encoding a new member of the NAC1 subgroup, was cloned from bread wheat and characterized. It is a TF localized in the cell nucleus, and contains an activation domain in its C-terminal. TaNAC1 was strongly expressed in wheat roots and was involved in responses to infection by the obligate pathogen Puccinia striiformis f. sp. tritici and defense-related hormone treatments such as salicylic acid (SA), methyl jasmonate, and ethylene. Knockdown of TaNAC1 with barley stripe mosaic virus-induced gene silencing (BSMV-VIGS) enhanced stripe rust resistance. TaNAC1-overexpression in Arabidopsis thaliana plants gave enhanced susceptibility, attenuated systemic-acquired resistance to Pseudomonas syringae DC3000, and promoted lateral root development. Jasmonic acid-signaling pathway genes PDF1.2 and ORA59 were constitutively expressed in transgenic plants. TaNAC1 overexpression suppressed the expression levels of resistance-related genes PR1 and PR2 involved in SA signaling and AtWRKY70, which functions as a connection node between the JA- and SA-signaling pathways. Collectively, TaNAC1 is a novel NAC member of the NAC1 subgroup, negatively regulates plant disease resistance, and may modulate plant JA- and SA-signaling defense cascades.
Fungal propagules survive stresses better than vegetative cells. Neosartorya fischeri, an Aspergillus teleomorph, forms ascospores that survive high temperatures or drying followed by heat. Not much is known about maturation and development of extreme stress resistance in fungal cells.
This study provides a novel two-step model for the acquisition of extreme stress resistance and entry into dormancy. Ascospores of 11- and 15-day-old cultures exhibited heat resistance, physiological activity, accumulation of compatible solutes and a steep increase in cytoplasmic viscosity. Electron spin resonance spectroscopy indicated that this stage is associated with the removal of bulk water and an increase of chemical stability.
Older ascospores from 15- to 50-day-old cultures showed no changes in compatible solute content and cytoplasmic viscosity, but did exhibit a further increase of heat resistance and redox stability with age. This stage was also characterized by changes in the composition of the mixture of compatible solutes. Mannitol levels decreased and the relative quantities of trehalose and trehalose-based oligosaccharides increased.
Dormant ascospores of N. fischeri survive in low-water habitats. After activation of the germination process, the stress resistance decreases, compatible solutes are degraded and the cellular viscosity drops. After 5 h, the hydrated cells enter the vegetative stage and redox stability has decreased notably.
Histidine kinases (HK) sense and transduce via phosphorylation events many intra- and extracellular signals in bacteria, archaea, slime moulds and plants. HK are also widespread in the fungal kingdom, but their precise roles in the regulation of physiological processes remain largely obscure. Expanding genomic resources have recently given the opportunity to identify uncharacterised HK family members in yeasts and moulds and now allow proposing a complex classification of Basidiomycota, Ascomycota and lower fungi HK. A growing number of genetic approaches have progressively provided new insight into the role of several groups of HK in prominent fungal pathogens. In particular, a series of studies have revealed that members of group III HK, which occur in the highest number of fungal species and contain a unique N-terminus region consisting of multiple HAMP domain repeats, regulate morphogenesis and virulence in various human, plant and insect pathogenic fungi. This research field is further supported by recent shape-function studies providing clear correlation between structural properties and signalling states in group III HK. Since HK are absent in mammals, these represent interesting fungal target for the discovery of new antifungal drugs.
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