[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Fusarium pathogens cause two major diseases in cereals, Fusarium crown rot (FCR) and head blight (FHB). A large-effect locus conferring resistance to FCR disease was previously located to chromosome arm 3BL (designated as Qcrs-3B) and several independent sets of near isogenic lines (NILs) have been developed for this locus. In this study, five sets of the NILs were used to examine transcriptional changes associated with the Qcrs-3B locus and to identify genes linked to the resistance locus as a step towards the isolation of the causative gene(s). Of the differentially expressed genes (DEGs) detected between the NILs, 12.7% was located on the single chromosome 3B. Of the expressed genes containing SNP (SNP-EGs) detected, 23.5% was mapped to this chromosome. Several of the DEGs and SNP-EGs are known to be involved in host-pathogen interactions, and a large number of the DEGs were among those detected for FHB in previous studies. Of the DEGs detected, 22 were mapped in the Qcrs-3B interval and they included eight which were detected in the resistant isolines only. The enrichment of DEG, and not necessarily those containing SNPs between the resistant and susceptible isolines, around the Qcrs-3B locus is suggestive of local regulation of this region by the resistance allele. Functions for 13 of these DEGs are known. Of the SNP-EGs, 28 were mapped in the Qcrs-3B interval and biological functions for 16 of them are known. These results provide insights into responses regulated by the 3BL locus and identify a tractable number of target genes for fine mapping and functional testing to identify the causative gene(s) at this QTL.
PLoS ONE 11/2014; 9(11):e113309. · 3.53 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Plant pathogens cause severe losses to crop plants and threaten global food production. One striking example is the wheat stem rust fungus, Puccinia graminis f. sp. tritici, which can rapidly evolve new virulent pathotypes in response to resistant host lines. Like several other filamentous fungal and oomycete plant pathogens, its genome features expanded gene families that have been implicated in host-pathogen interactions, possibly encoding effector proteins that interact directly with target host defense proteins. Previous efforts to understand virulence largely relied on the prediction of secreted, small and cysteine-rich proteins as candidate effectors and thus delivered an overwhelming number of candidates. Here, we implement an alternative analysis strategy that uses the signal of adaptive evolution as a line of evidence for effector function, combined with comparative information and expression data. We demonstrate that in planta up-regulated genes that are rapidly evolving are found almost exclusively in pathogen-associated gene families, affirming the impact of host-pathogen co-evolution on genome structure and the adaptive diversification of specialized gene families. In particular, we predict 42 effector candidates that are conserved only across pathogens, induced during infection and rapidly evolving. One of our top candidates has recently been shown to induce genotype-specific hypersensitive cell death in wheat. This shows that comparative genomics incorporating the evolutionary signal of adaptation is powerful for predicting effector candidates for laboratory verification. Our system can be applied to a wide range of pathogens and will give insight into host-pathogen dynamics, ultimately leading to progress in strategies for disease control.
Frontiers in Plant Science 09/2014; 5:372. · 3.64 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Studies in Arabidopsis show that DELLA genes may differentially affect responses to biotrophic and necrophic pathogens. A recent report based on the study of DELLA-producing reduced height (Rht) genes in wheat and barley also hypothesized that DELLA genes likely increased susceptibility to necrotrophs but increased resistance to biotrophs.
Effects of uzu, a non-GA (gibberellic acid)-responsive semi-dwarfing gene, on Fusarium crown rot (FCR) resistance in barley were investigated. Fifteen pairs of near isogenic lines for this gene were generated and assessed under two different temperature regimes. Similar to its impacts on plant height, the semi-dwarfing gene uzu also showed larger effects on FCR severity in the high temperature regime when compared with that in the low temperature regime.
Results from this study add to the growing evidence showing that the effects of plant height on Fusarium resistances are unlikely related to DELLA genes but due to direct or indirect effects of height difference per se. The interaction between these two characteristics highlights the importance of understanding relationships between resistance and other traits of agronomic importance as the value of a resistance gene could be compromised if it dramatically affects plant development and morphology.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In comparison to dicot-infecting bacteria, only limited numbers of genome sequences are available for monocot-infecting and in particular cereal-infecting bacteria. Herein we report the characterisation and genome sequence of Xanthomonas translucens isolate DAR61454 pathogenic on wheat and barley. Based on phylogenetic analysis of the ATP synthase beta subunit (atpD) gene, DAR61454 is most closely related to other X. translucens strains and the sugarcane- and banana- infecting Xanthomonas strains, but shares a type III secretion system (T3SS) with X. translucens pv. graminis and more distantly related xanthomonads. Assays with an adenylate cyclase reporter protein demonstrate that DAR61454's T3SS is functional in delivering proteins to wheat cells. X. translucens DAR61454 also encodes two type VI secretion systems with one most closely related to those found in some strains of the rice infecting strain X. oryzae pv. oryzae but not other xanthomonads. Comparative analysis of 18 different Xanthomonas isolates revealed 84 proteins unique to cereal (i.e. rice) infecting isolates and the wheat/barley infecting DAR61454. Genes encoding 60 of these proteins are found in gene clusters in the X. translucens DAR61454 genome, suggesting cereal-specific pathogenicity islands. However, none of the cereal pathogen specific proteins were homologous to known Xanthomonas spp. effectors. Comparative analysis outside of the bacterial kingdom revealed a nucleoside triphosphate pyrophosphohydrolase encoding gene in DAR61454 also present in other bacteria as well as a number of pathogenic Fusarium species, suggesting that this gene may have been transmitted horizontally from bacteria to the Fusarium lineage of pathogenic fungi. This example further highlights the importance of horizontal gene acquisition from bacteria in the evolution of fungi.
PLoS ONE 01/2014; 9(1):e84995. · 3.53 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Fungal pathogens cause devastating losses in economically important cereal crops by utilising pathogen proteins to infect host plants. Secreted pathogen proteins are referred to as effectors and have thus far been identified by selecting small, cysteine-rich peptides from the secretome despite increasing evidence that not all effectors share these attributes.
We take advantage of the availability of sequenced fungal genomes and present an unbiased method for finding putative pathogen proteins and secreted effectors in a query genome via comparative hidden Markov Model analyses followed by unsupervised protein clustering. Our method returns experimentally validated fungal effectors in Stagonospora nodorum and Fusarium oxysporum as well as the N-terminal Y/F/WxC-motif from the barley powdery mildew pathogen. Application to the cereal pathogen Fusarium graminearum reveals a secreted phosphorylcholine phosphatase that is characteristic of hemibiotrophic and necrotrophic cereal pathogens and shares an ancient selection process with bacterial plant pathogens. Three F. graminearum protein clusters are found with an enriched secretion signal. One of these putative effector clusters contains proteins that share a [SG]-P-C-[KR]-P sequence motif in the N-terminal and show features not commonly associated with fungal effectors. This motif is conserved in secreted pathogenic Fusarium proteins and a prime candidate for functional testing.
Our pipeline has successfully uncovered conservation patterns, putative effectors and motifs of fungal pathogens that would have been overlooked by existing approaches that identify effectors as small, secreted, cysteine-rich peptides. It can be applied to any pathogenic proteome data, such as microbial pathogen data of plants and other organisms.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Fusarium is a genus of filamentous fungi that contains many agronomically important plant pathogens, mycotoxin producers, and opportunistic human pathogens. Comparative analyses have revealed that the Fusarium genome is compartmentalized into regions responsible for primary metabolism and reproduction (core genome), and pathogen virulence, host specialization, and possibly other functions (adaptive genome). Genes involved in virulence and host specialization are located on pathogenicity chromosomes within strains pathogenic to tomato (Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. lycopersici) and pea (Fusarium 'solani' f. sp. pisi). The experimental transfer of pathogenicity chromosomes from F. oxysporum f. sp. lycopersici into a nonpathogen transformed the latter into a tomato pathogen. Thus, horizontal transfer may explain the polyphyletic origins of host specificity within the genus. Additional genome-scale comparative and functional studies are needed to elucidate the evolution and diversity of pathogenicity mechanisms, which may help inform novel disease management strategies against fusarial pathogens.
Annual review of microbiology 09/2013; 67:399-416. · 12.80 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The constant interaction between plants and their pathogens has resulted in the evolution of a diverse array of microbial infection strategies. It is increasingly evident that horizontal acquisition of new virulence functions in fungi is one of the evolutionary processes that maintain pathogens' competitive edge over host plants. Genome analyses of fungi are pointing towards this phenomenon being particularly prevalent in the subphylum Pezizomycota. While the extent of cross-kingdom gene transfer can be determined with existing genomic tools and databases, so far very few horizontally transmitted genes have been functionally characterised, and an understanding of their physiological roles in virulence has been determined for even fewer genes. Understanding the evolutionary selection pressures that drive the retention of acquired genes in particular fungal lineages is important, as it will undoubtedly reveal new insights into both fungal virulence mechanisms and corresponding plant defence processes in the future.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Fusarium pathogens represent a major constraint to wheat and barley production worldwide. To facilitate future comparative studies of Fusarium species that are pathogenic to wheat, the genome sequences of four Fusarium pseudograminearum isolates, a single Fusarium acuminatum isolate, and an organism from the Fusarium incarnatum-F. equiseti species complex are reported.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: FgABC1 (FGSG_04580) is predicted to encode a pleiotropic drug resistance-class ABC transporter in Fusarium graminearum, a globally important pathogen of wheat. Deletion mutants of FgABC1 showed reduced virulence towards wheat in crown and root infection assays but were unaltered in infectivity on barley. Expression of FgABC1 during head blight and crown rot disease increases during the necrotrophic phases of infection suggestive of a role for FgABC1 in late infection stages in different tissue types. Deletion of FgABC1 also led to increased sensitivity of the fungus to the antifungal compound benalaxyl in culture but the response to known cereal defence compounds, gramine, 2-benzoxazalinone and tryptamine, was un-altered. FgABC1 appears to have a role in protecting the fungus from antifungal compounds and is likely to help combat as yet unidentified wheat defence compounds during disease development. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are produced in plant cells in response to diverse biotic and abiotic stresses as well as during normal growth and development. Although a large number of transcription factor (TF) genes are up- or down-regulated by ROS, currently very little is known about the functions of these TFs during oxidative stress. In this work, we examined the role of ERF6 (ETHYLENE RESPONSE FACTOR6), an AP2/ERF domain-containing TF, during oxidative stress responses in Arabidopsis. Mutant analyses showed that NADPH oxidase (RbohD) and calcium signaling are required for ROS-responsive expression of ERF6. erf6 insertion mutant plants showed reduced growth and increased H2O2 and anthocyanin levels. Expression analyses of selected ROS-responsive genes during oxidative stress identified several differentially expressed genes in the erf6 mutant. In particular, a number of ROS responsive genes, such as ZAT12, HSFs, WRKYs, MAPKs, RBOHs, DHAR1, APX4, and CAT1 were more strongly induced by H2O2 in erf6 plants than in wild-type. In contrast, MDAR3, CAT3, VTC2 and EX1 showed reduced expression levels in the erf6 mutant. Taken together, our results indicate that ERF6 plays an important role as a positive antioxidant regulator during plant growth and in response to biotic and abiotic stresses.
PLoS ONE 08/2013; 8(8):e70289. · 3.53 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Compared to those of dicot-infecting bacteria, the available genome sequences of bacteria that infect wheat and barley are limited. Herein, we report the draft genome sequences of four pseudomonads originally isolated from these cereals. These genome sequences provide a useful resource for comparative analyses within the genus and for cross-kingdom analyses of plant pathogenesis.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The plant hormone jasmonate (JA) fulfils essential roles in plant defense and development. While most of our current understanding of the JA pathway comes from the dicotyledonous model plant Arabidopsis thaliana, new studies in monocotyledonous plants are providing additional insights into this important hormone signaling pathway. In this review, we present a comparative overview of the JA biosynthetic and signaling pathways in monocots. We highlight recent studies that have revealed molecular mechanisms (mostly conserved but also diverged) underlying JA signaling and biosynthesis in the economically important plants: maize and rice. A better understanding of the JA pathway in monocots should lead to significant improvements in pest and pathogen resistance in cereal crops, which provide the bulk of the world's food and feed supply.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: With expansion of our understanding of pathogen effector strategies and the multiplicity of their host targets, it is becoming evident that novel approaches to engineering broad-spectrum resistance need to be deployed. The increasing availability of high temporal gene expression data of a range of plant-microbe interactions enables the judicious choices of promoters to fine-tune timing and magnitude of expression under specified stress conditions. We can therefore contemplate engineering a range of transgenic lines designed to interfere with pathogen virulence strategies that target plant hormone signalling or deploy specific disease resistance genes. An advantage of such an approach is that hormonal signalling is generic so if this strategy is effective, it can be easily implemented in a range of crop species. Additionally, multiple re-wired lines can be crossed to develop more effective responses to pathogens.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Jasmonates (JAs) are plant hormones with essential roles in plant defense and development. The basic-helix-loop-helix (bHLH) transcription factor (TF) MYC2 has recently emerged as a master regulator of most aspects of the jasmonate (JA) signaling pathway in Arabidopsis. MYC2 coordinates JA-mediated defense responses by antagonistically regulating two different branches of the JA signaling pathway that determine resistance to pests and pathogens, respectively. MYC2 is required for induced systemic resistance (ISR) triggered by beneficial soil microbes while MYC2 function is targeted by pathogens during effector-mediated suppression of innate immunity in roots. Another notable function of MYC2 is the regulation of crosstalk between the signaling pathways of JA and those of other phytohormones such as abscisic acid (ABA), salicylic acid (SA), gibberellins (GAs) and auxin (IAA). MYC2 also regulates interactions between JA signaling and light, phytochrome signaling and the circadian clock. MYC2 is involved in JA-regulated plant development, lateral and adventitious root formation, flowering time and shade avoidance syndrome. Related bHLH TFs MYC3 and MYC4 also regulate both overlapping and distinct MYC2-regulated functions in Arabidopsis while MYC2 orthologs act as "master switches" that regulate JA-mediated biosynthesis of secondary metabolites. Here, we briefly review recent studies that revealed mechanistic new insights into the mode of action of this versatile TF.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Over the last two decades, several transcription factor gene families have been identified with some of them characterized in detail for their roles on transcriptional regulation of plant defense responses against pest or pathogen attack. We have recently added another transcription factor gene family to this list through the characterization of the LATERAL ORGAN BOUNDARIES (LOB) DOMAIN (LBD)-CONTAINING PROTEIN20 (LBD20). We showed LBD20 acts as a repressor of a subset of jasmonate mediated defenses and in susceptibility to the root-infecting fungal pathogen Fusarium oxysporum. However, possible roles for other members of this gene family in plant defense are currently unknown. Here we searched publically available microarray expression data and provide an overview of the expression patterns of selected members of the LBD gene family for their response to other fungal pathogens and soil nematodes. Distinct expression patterns of the LBD genes suggest that certain members of this gene family have previously undescribed roles in plant defense.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Comparative analyses of pathogen genomes provide new insights into how pathogens have evolved common and divergent virulence strategies to invade related plant species. Fusarium crown and root rots are important diseases of wheat and barley world-wide. In Australia, these diseases are primarily caused by the fungal pathogen Fusarium pseudograminearum. Comparative genomic analyses showed that the F. pseudograminearum genome encodes proteins that are present in other fungal pathogens of cereals but absent in non-cereal pathogens. In some cases, these cereal pathogen specific genes were also found in bacteria associated with plants. Phylogenetic analysis of selected F. pseudograminearum genes supported the hypothesis of horizontal gene transfer into diverse cereal pathogens. Two horizontally acquired genes with no previously known role in fungal pathogenesis were studied functionally via gene knockout methods and shown to significantly affect virulence of F. pseudograminearum on the cereal hosts wheat and barley. Our results indicate using comparative genomics to identify genes specific to pathogens of related hosts reveals novel virulence genes and illustrates the importance of horizontal gene transfer in the evolution of plant infecting fungal pathogens.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The PHYTOCHROME AND FLOWERING TIME1 gene encoding the MEDIATOR25 (MED25) subunit of the eukaryotic Mediator complex is a positive regulator of jasmonate (JA)-responsive gene expression in Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana). Based on the function of the Mediator complex as a bridge between DNA-bound transcriptional activators and the RNA polymerase II complex, MED25 has been hypothesized to function in association with transcriptional regulators of the JA pathway. However, it is currently not known mechanistically how MED25 functions to regulate JA-responsive gene expression. In this study, we show that MED25 physically interacts with several key transcriptional regulators of the JA signaling pathway, including the APETALA2 (AP2)/ETHYLENE RESPONSE FACTOR (ERF) transcription factors OCTADECANOID-RESPONSIVE ARABIDOPSIS AP2/ERF59 and ERF1 as well as the master regulator MYC2. Physical interaction detected between MED25 and four group IX AP2/ERF transcription factors was shown to require the activator interaction domain of MED25 as well as the recently discovered Conserved Motif IX-1/EDLL transcription activation motif of MED25-interacting AP2/ERFs. Using transcriptional activation experiments, we also show that OCTADECANOID-RESPONSIVE ARABIDOPSIS AP2/ERF59- and ERF1-dependent activation of PLANT DEFENSIN1.2 as well as MYC2-dependent activation of VEGETATIVE STORAGE PROTEIN1 requires a functional MED25. In addition, MED25 is required for MYC2-dependent repression of pathogen defense genes. These results suggest an important role for MED25 as an integrative hub within the Mediator complex during the regulation of JA-associated gene expression.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The LATERAL ORGAN BOUNDARIES (LOB) DOMAIN (LBD) gene family encodes plant-specific transcriptional regulators functioning in organ development. In a screen of Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) sequence-indexed transferred DNA insertion mutants, we found disruption of the LOB DOMAIN-CONTAINING PROTEIN20 (LBD20) gene led to increased resistance to the root-infecting vascular wilt pathogen Fusarium oxysporum. In wild-type plants, LBD20 transcripts were barely detectable in leaves but abundant in roots, where they were further induced after F. oxysporum inoculation or methyl jasmonate treatment. Induction of LBD20 expression in roots was abolished in coronatine insensitive1 (coi1) and myc2 (allelic to jasmonate insensitive1) mutants, suggesting LBD20 may function in jasmonate (JA) signaling. Consistent with this, expression of the JA-regulated THIONIN2.1 (Thi2.1) and VEGETATIVE STORAGE PROTEIN2 (VSP2) genes were up-regulated in shoots of lbd20 following treatment of roots with F. oxysporum or methyl jasmonate. However, PLANT DEFENSIN1.2 expression was unaltered, indicating a repressor role for LBD20 in a branch of the JA-signaling pathway. Plants overexpressing LBD20 (LBD20-OX) had reduced Thi2.1 and VSP2 expression. There was a significant correlation between increased LBD20 expression in the LBD20-OX lines with both Thi2.1 and VSP2 repression, and reduced survival following F. oxysporum infection. Chlorosis resulting from application of F. oxysporum culture filtrate was also reduced in lbd20 leaves relative to the wild type. Taken together, LBD20 is a F. oxysporum susceptibility gene that appears to regulate components of JA signaling downstream of COI1 and MYC2 that are required for full elicitation of F. oxysporum- and JA-dependent responses. To our knowledge, this is the first demonstration of a role for a LBD gene family member in either biotic stress or JA signaling.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Polyploidy events (polyploidization) followed by progressive loss of redundant genome components are a major feature of plant evolution, with new evidence suggesting that all flowering plants possess ancestral genome duplications. Furthermore, many of our most important crop plants have undergone additional, relatively recent, genome duplication events. Recent advances in DNA sequencing have made vast amounts of new genomic data available for many plants, including a range of important crop species with highly duplicated genomes. Along with assisting traditional forward genetics approaches to study gene function, this wealth of new sequence data facilitates extensive reverse genetics-based functional analyses. However, plants featuring high levels of genome duplication as a result of recent polyploidization pose additional challenges for reverse genetic analysis. Here we review reverse genetic analysis in such polyploid plants and highlight key challenges.