Global gene expression during nitrogen starvation in the rice blast fungus, Magnaporthe grisea.
ABSTRACT Efficient regulation of nitrogen metabolism likely plays a role in the ability of fungi to exploit ecological niches. To learn about regulation of nitrogen metabolism in the rice blast pathogen Magnaporthe grisea, we undertook a genome-wide analysis of gene expression under nitrogen-limiting conditions. Five hundred and twenty genes showed increased transcript levels at 12 and 48 h after shifting the fungus to media lacking nitrate as a nitrogen source. Thirty-nine of these genes have putative functions in amino acid metabolism and uptake, and include the global nitrogen regulator in M. grisea, NUT1. Evaluation of seven nitrogen starvation-induced genes revealed that all were expressed during rice infection. Targeted gene replacement on one such gene, the vacuolar serine protease, SPM1, resulted in decreased sporulation and appressorial development as well as a greatly attenuated ability to cause disease. Data are discussed in the context of nitrogen metabolism under starvation conditions, as well as conditions potentially encountered during invasive growth in planta.
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ABSTRACT: The rice blast fungus Magnaporthe oryzae is a global food security threat due to its destruction of cultivated rice. Of the world's rice harvest, 10-30 % is lost each year to this pathogen, and changing climates are likely to favor its spread into new areas. Insights into how the fungus might be contained could come from the wealth of molecular and cellular studies that have been undertaken in order to shed light on the biological underpinnings of blast disease, aspects of which we review herein. Infection begins when a three-celled spore lands on the surface of a leaf, germinates, and develops the specialized infection structure called the appressorium. The mature appressorium develops a high internal turgor that acts on a thin penetration peg, forcing it through the rice cuticle and into the underlying epidermal cells. Primary then invasive hyphae (IH) elaborate from the peg and grow asymptomatically from one living rice cell to another for the first few days of infection before host cells begin to die and characteristic necrotic lesions form on the surface of the leaf, from which spores are produced to continue the life cycle. To gain new insights into the biology of rice blast disease, we argue that, conceptually, the infection process can be viewed as two discrete phases occurring in markedly different environments and requiring distinct biochemical pathways and morphogenetic regulation: outside the host cell, where the appressorium develops in a nutrient-free environment, and inside the host cell, where filamentous growth occurs in a glucose-rich, nitrogen-poor environment, at least from the perspective of the fungus. Here, we review the physiological and metabolic changes that occur in M. oryzae as it transitions from the surface to the interior of the host, thus enabling us to draw lessons about the strategies that allow M. oryzae cells to thrive in rice cells.Protoplasma 08/2013; · 2.86 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: ABSTRACT Most fungal genomes are poorly annotated, and many fungal traits of industrial and biomedical relevance are not well suited to classical genetic screens. Assigning genes to phenotypes on a genomic scale thus remains an urgent need in the field. We developed an approach to infer gene function from expression profiles of wild fungal isolates, and we applied our strategy to the filamentous fungus Neurospora crassa. Using transcriptome measurements in 70 strains from two well-defined clades of this microbe, we first identified 2,247 cases in which the expression of an unannotated gene rose and fell across N. crassa strains in parallel with the expression of well-characterized genes. We then used image analysis of hyphal morphologies, quantitative growth assays, and expression profiling to test the functions of four genes predicted from our population analyses. The results revealed two factors that influenced regulation of metabolism of nonpreferred carbon and nitrogen sources, a gene that governed hyphal architecture, and a gene that mediated amino acid starvation resistance. These findings validate the power of our population-transcriptomic approach for inference of novel gene function, and we suggest that this strategy will be of broad utility for genome-scale annotation in many fungal systems. IMPORTANCE Some fungal species cause deadly infections in humans or crop plants, and other fungi are workhorses of industrial chemistry, including the production of biofuels. Advances in medical and industrial mycology require an understanding of the genes that control fungal traits. We developed a method to infer functions of uncharacterized genes by observing correlated expression of their mRNAs with those of known genes across wild fungal isolates. We applied this strategy to a filamentous fungus and predicted functions for thousands of unknown genes. In four cases, we experimentally validated the predictions from our method, discovering novel genes involved in the metabolism of nutrient sources relevant for biofuel production, as well as colony morphology and starvation resistance. Our strategy is straightforward, inexpensive, and applicable for predicting gene function in many fungal species.mBio 01/2014; 5(2). · 5.62 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Foliar fungal pathogens challenge global food security, but how they optimize growth and development during infection is understudied. Despite adopting several lifestyles to facilitate nutrient acquisition from colonized cells, little is known about the genetic underpinnings governing pathogen adaption to host-derived nutrients. Homologs of common global and pathway-specific gene regulatory elements are likely to be involved, but their contribution to pathogenicity, and how they are connected to broader genetic networks, is largely unspecified. Here, we focus on carbon and nitrogen metabolism in foliar pathogens and consider what is known, and what is not known, about fungal exploitation of host nutrient and ask how common metabolic regulators have been co-opted to the plant-pathogenic lifestyle as well as how nutrients are utilized to drive infection.Annual Review of Phytopathology 05/2014; 52:52:8.1–8.20. · 10.23 Impact Factor