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Large-scale transcriptomics to dissect 2 years of the life of a fungal phytopathogen interacting with its host plant

Abstract : Background The fungus Leptosphaeria maculans has an exceptionally long and complex relationship with its host plant, Brassica napus, during which it switches between different lifestyles, including asymptomatic, biotrophic, necrotrophic, and saprotrophic stages. The fungus is also exemplary of "two-speed" genome organisms in the genome of which gene-rich and repeat-rich regions alternate. Except for a few stages of plant infection under controlled conditions, nothing is known about the genes mobilized by the fungus throughout its life cycle, which may last several years in the field. Results We performed RNA-seq on samples corresponding to all stages of the interaction of L. maculans with its host plant, either alive or dead (stem residues after harvest) in controlled conditions or in field experiments under natural inoculum pressure, over periods of time ranging from a few days to months or years. A total of 102 biological samples corresponding to 37 sets of conditions were analyzed. We show here that about 9% of the genes of this fungus are highly expressed during its interactions with its host plant. These genes are distributed into eight well-defined expression clusters, corresponding to specific infection lifestyles or to tissue-specific genes. All expression clusters are enriched in effector genes, and one cluster is specific to the saprophytic lifestyle on plant residues. One cluster, including genes known to be involved in the first phase of asymptomatic fungal growth in leaves, is re-used at each asymptomatic growth stage, regardless of the type of organ infected. The expression of the genes of this cluster is repeatedly turned on and off during infection. Whatever their expression profile, the genes of these clusters are enriched in heterochromatin regions associated with H3K9me3 or H3K27me3 repressive marks. These findings provide support for the hypothesis that part of the fungal genes involved in niche adaptation is located in heterochromatic regions of the genome, conferring an extreme plasticity of expression. Conclusion This work opens up new avenues for plant disease control, by identifying stage-specific effectors that could be used as targets for the identification of novel durable disease resistance genes, or for the in-depth analysis of chromatin remodeling during plant infection, which could be manipulated to interfere with the global expression of effector genes at crucial stages of plant infection.
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https://hal.inrae.fr/hal-03190704
Contributor : Christine Guillard <>
Submitted on : Tuesday, April 6, 2021 - 2:59:35 PM
Last modification on : Friday, July 16, 2021 - 9:40:02 AM

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Elise Gay, Jessica Soyer, Nicolas Lapalu, Juliette Linglin, Isabelle Fudal, et al.. Large-scale transcriptomics to dissect 2 years of the life of a fungal phytopathogen interacting with its host plant. BMC Biology, BioMed Central, 2021, 19 (1), pp.e041118. ⟨10.1186/s12915-021-00989-3⟩. ⟨hal-03190704⟩

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