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Characterization of a novel transcription factor from Sclerotinia sclerotiorum induced during infection of pea

Hyunkyu Sang: Michigan State University

<div>The plant pathogenic fungus <em>Sclerotinia sclerotiorum</em> is the primary causal agent of white mold and is capable of infecting over 400 host species including pea (<em>Pisum sativum</em> L.). Pea is an important legume crop in the United States but white mold can cause substantial yield loss. Understanding mechanisms of <em>Sclerotinia</em> pathogenicity is essential to improving white mold management in pea but the pathogenicity factors to pea have been poorly studied. A white mold partially resistant pea line (PI 240515) and susceptible cultivar ‘Lifter’ were inoculated with <em>S. sclerotiorum</em> colonized potato dextrose agar (PDA) plugs of strain Scl02-05 and uncultured PDA media inoculated with the plugs were used as a control. Samples were harvested at 12, 24, and 48 hours post inoculation (hpi) for RNA-seq analysis. A total of 317 transcripts of <em>S. sclerotiorum</em> were significantly induced in both pea lines at 24 and 48 hpi compared to the expression on the PDA plugs alone. Among these transcripts, one putative <em>S. sclerotiorum </em>transcription factor (TF) showed higher expression in the susceptible cultivar than the partially resistant line at 24 hpi. This TF was silenced by constitutively overexpressing a hairpin double stranded RNA of target sequences to investigate its function in pathogenicity and development of <em>S. sclerotiorum</em>. This study will provide molecular insights of <em>S. sclerotiorum</em> pathogenicity into pea and other economically important crops.</div>