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Large-Scale Gene Discovery in the Septoria Tritici Blotch Fungus Mycosphaerella graminicola with a Focus on In Planta Expression

September 2008 , Volume 21 , Number  9
Pages  1,249 - 1,260

Gert H. J. Kema,1 Theo A. J. van der Lee,1 Odette Mendes,1 Els C. P. Verstappen,1 René Klein Lankhorst,2 Hans Sandbrink,2 Ate van der Burgt,1 Lute-Harm Zwiers,3 Michael Csukai,4 and Cees Waalwijk1

1Plant Research International B.V., P.O. Box 16, 6700 AA Wageningen, The Netherlands; 2Greenomics, Plant Research International B.V., P.O. Box 16, 6700 AA Wageningen, The Netherlands; 3Laboratory of Phytopathology, Wageningen University, 6709 PD Wageningen, The Netherlands; 4Syngenta, Jealott's Hill International Research Centre, Bracknell, Berkshire, U.K.

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Accepted 30 April 2008.

The foliar disease septoria tritici blotch, caused by the fungus Mycosphaerella graminicola, is currently the most important wheat disease in Europe. Gene expression was examined under highly different conditions, using 10 expressed sequence tag libraries generated from M. graminicola isolate IPO323 using seven in vitro and three in planta growth conditions. To identify fungal clones in the interaction libraries, we developed a selection method based on hybridization with the entire genomic DNA of M. graminicola, to selectively enrich these libraries for fungal genes. Assembly of the 27,007 expressed sequence tags resulted in 9,190 unigenes, representing 5.2 Mb of the estimated 39-Mb genome size of M. graminicola. All libraries contributed significantly to the number of unigenes, especially the in planta libraries representing different stages of pathogenesis, which covered 15% of the library-specific unigenes. Even under presymptomatic conditions (5 days postinoculation), when fungal biomass is less than 5%, this method enabled us to efficiently capture fungal genes expressed during pathogenesis. Many of these genes were uniquely expressed in planta, indicating that in planta gene expression significantly differed from in vitro expression. Examples of gene discovery included a number of cell wall--degrading enzymes, a broad set of genes involved in signal transduction (n = 11) and a range of ATP-binding cassette (n = 20) and major facilitator superfamily transporter genes (n = 12) potentially involved in protection against antifungal compounds or the secretion of pathogenicity factors. In addition, evidence is provided for a mycovirus in M. graminicola that is highly expressed under various stress conditions, in particular, under nitrogen starvation. Our analyses provide a unique window on in vitro and in planta gene expression of M. graminicola.

© 2008 The American Phytopathological Society