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The Application of Laser Microdissection to In Planta Gene Expression Profiling of the Maize Anthracnose Stalk Rot Fungus Colletotrichum graminicola

November 2006 , Volume 19 , Number  11
Pages  1,240 - 1,250

Weihua Tang , 1 Sean Coughlan , 2 Edmund Crane , 1 Mary Beatty , 1 and Jon Duvick 1

1Pioneer Hi-Bred International, A DuPont Company, Johnston IA 50131-1004 U.S.A.; 2Agilent Technologies, Wilmington, DE 19808 U.S.A.


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Accepted 26 June 2006.

Laser microdissection (LM) offers a potential means for deep sampling of a fungal plant-pathogen transcriptome during the infection process using whole-genome DNA microarrays. The use of a fluorescent protein-expressing fungus can greatly facilitate the identification of fungal structures for LM sampling. However, fixation methods that preserve both tissue histology and protein fluorescence, and that also yield RNA of suitable quality for microarray applications, have not been reported. We developed a microwave-accelerated acetone fixation, paraffin-embedding method that fulfills these requirements and used it to prepare mature maize stalk tissues infected with an Anemonia majano cyan fluorescent protein-expressing isolate of the anthracnose stalk rot fungus Colletotrichum graminicola. We successfully used LM to isolate individual maize cells associated with C. graminicola hyphae at an early stage of infection. The LM-derived RNA, after two-round linear amplification, was of sufficient quality and quantity for global expression profiling using a fungal microarray. Comparing replicated LM samples representing an early stage of stalk cell infection with samples from in vitro-germinated conidia, we identified 437 and 370 C. graminicola genes showing significant up- or downregulation, respectively. We confirmed the differential expression of several representative transcripts by quantitative reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and documented extensive overlap of this dataset with a PCR-subtraction library enriched for C. graminicola transcripts in planta. Our results demonstrate that LM is feasible for in planta pathogen expression profiling and can reveal clues about fungal genes involved in pathogenesis. The method in this report may be advantageous for visualizing a variety of cellular features that depend on a high degree of histochemical preservation and RNA integrity prior to LM.


Additional keywords: oligonucleotide microarray , phytase .

© 2006 The American Phytopathological Society