Host-Induced Gene Silencing in Barley Powdery Mildew Reveals a Class of Ribonuclease-Like Effectors

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2013-06-01
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Pliego, Clara
Nowara, Daniele
Bonciani, Giulia
Gheroghe, Dana
Xu, Ruo
Whigham, Ehren
Bogdanove, Adam
Wise, Roger
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Surana, Priyanka
Research Associate at University of Sydney
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Nettleton, Dan
Department Chair and Distinguished Professor
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Plant Pathology and Microbiology
The Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology and the Department of Entomology officially merged as of September 1, 2022. The new department is known as the Department of Plant Pathology, Entomology, and Microbiology (PPEM). The overall mission of the Department is to benefit society through research, teaching, and extension activities that improve pest management and prevent disease. Collectively, the Department consists of about 100 faculty, staff, and students who are engaged in research, teaching, and extension activities that are central to the mission of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. The Department possesses state-of-the-art research and teaching facilities in the Advanced Research and Teaching Building and in Science II. In addition, research and extension activities are performed off-campus at the Field Extension Education Laboratory, the Horticulture Station, the Agriculture Engineering/Agronomy Farm, and several Research and Demonstration Farms located around the state. Furthermore, the Department houses the Plant and Insect Diagnostic Clinic, the Iowa Soybean Research Center, the Insect Zoo, and BugGuide. Several USDA-ARS scientists are also affiliated with the Department.
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Obligate biotrophic pathogens of plants must circumvent or counteract defenses to guarantee accommodation inside the host. To do so, they secrete a variety of effectors that regulate host immunity and facilitate the establishment of pathogen feeding structures called haustoria. The barley powdery mildew fungus Blumeria graminis f. sp. hordeiproduces a large number of proteins predicted to be secreted from haustoria. Fifty of these Blumeria effector candidates (BEC) were screened by host-induced gene silencing (HIGS), and eight were identified that contribute to infection. One shows similarity to β-1,3 glucosyltransferases, one to metallo-proteases, and two to microbial secreted ribonucleases; the remainder have no similarity to proteins of known function. Transcript abundance of all eight BEC increases dramatically in the early stages of infection and establishment of haustoria, consistent with a role in that process. Complementation analysis using silencing-insensitive synthetic cDNAs demonstrated that the ribonuclease-like BEC 1011 and 1054 are bona fide effectors that function within the plant cell. BEC1011 specifically interferes with pathogen-induced host cell death. Both are part of a gene superfamily unique to the powdery mildew fungi. Structural modeling was consistent, with BEC1054 adopting a ribonuclease-like fold, a scaffold not previously associated with effector function.

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This article is from Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions 26 (2013): 633, doi:10.1094/MPMI-01-13-0005-R.

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