INRA, Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique, UMR 1136 INRA/Université Nancy, Interactions Arbres/Microorganismes, Centre INRA de Nancy, 54280 Champenoux, France
Melampsora larici-populina is responsible for poplar leaf rust disease and causes severe epidemics in poplar plantations in Europe. The poplar rust genome has been recently sequenced and, in order to find the genetic determinants associated with its biotrophic lifestyle, we generated a whole-genome custom oligoarray and analyzed transcript profiles of M. larici-populina during the infection timecourse in poplar leaves. Different stages were investigated during the asexual development of the rust fungus, including resting and germinating urediniospores and seven in planta stages in the telial host. In total, 76% of the transcripts were detected during leaf infection as well as in urediniospores, whereas 20% were only detected in planta, including several transporters and many small secreted proteins (SSP). We focused our analysis on gene categories known to be related to plant colonization and biotrophic growth in rust pathogens, such as SSP, carbohydrate active enzymes (CAZymes), transporters, lipases, and proteases. Distinct sets of SSP transcripts were expressed all along the infection process, suggesting highly dynamic expression of candidate rust effectors. In contrast, transcripts encoding transporters and proteases were mostly expressed after 48 h postinoculation, when numerous haustoria are already formed in the leaf mesophyll until uredinia formation, supporting their role in nutrient acquisition during biotrophic growth. Finally, CAZymes and lipase transcripts were predominantly expressed at late stages of infection, highlighting their importance during sporulation.