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Transcriptomic and Phenotypic Responses of Arabidopsis thaliana to Infection with Pathogenic or Non-Pathogenic Fusarium oxysporum

Kathryn Vescio: University of Massachusetts

<div><em>Fusarium oxysporum </em>(<em>Fo</em>) is a soil-borne fungal pathogen that causes vascular wilt disease on a broad range of plants, including agricultural crops and the model plant <em>Arabidopsis thaliana</em>. There are non-pathogenic members of the <em>Fo </em>species complex that confer various defense benefits against other pathogens to the host plant. Transcriptomic analysis of <em>Arabidopsis thaliana</em> infected by the pathogenic strain Fo5176 and non-pathogenic strain Fo47 has identified shifts in plant gene expression specific to treatment. Annotation of protein-protein interaction networks highlighted an enrichment of genes and pathways related to nutrient acquisition and assimilation, and transcriptional reprogramming in Fo47 infected <em>A. thaliana</em> roots. In contrast, when responding to pathogen infection, genes and pathways related to protein homeostasis, jasmonic acid signaling and systemic defense responses are induced. Phenotypic characterization of <em>A. thaliana</em> plants inoculated with Fo47 or Fo5176 has revealed significant increases in shoot and root biomass, and alterations in lateral root architecture in Fo47 inoculated plants. With insights from RNA-seq and phenotypic data, we propose that infection with Fo47 improves plant tolerance to stress, and mechanisms taking place on the molecular and cellular levels will be discussed.</div>