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The Endo-Arabinanase BcAra1 Is a Novel Host-Specific Virulence Factor of the Necrotic Fungal Phytopathogen Botrytis cinerea

August 2014 , Volume 27 , Number  8
Pages  781 - 792

Majse Nafisi,1 Maria Stranne,1 Lisha Zhang,2 Jan A. L. van Kan,2 and Yumiko Sakuragi1

1University of Copenhagen, Faculty of Science, Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, Thorvaldsensvej 40, 1871 Frederiksberg, Denmark; 2Wageningen University, Laboratory of Phytopathology, Droevendaalsesteeg 1, 6708 PB Wageningen, The Netherlands

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Accepted 1 April 2014.

The plant cell wall is one of the first physical interfaces encountered by plant pathogens and consists of polysaccharides, of which arabinan is an important constituent. During infection, the necrotrophic plant pathogen Botrytis cinerea secretes a cocktail of plant cell-wall-degrading enzymes, including endo-arabinanase activity, which carries out the breakdown of arabinan. The roles of arabinan and endo-arabinanases during microbial infection were thus far elusive. In this study, the gene Bcara1 encoding for a novel α-1,5-L-endo-arabinanase was identified and the heterologously expressed BcAra1 protein was shown to hydrolyze linear arabinan with high efficiency whereas little or no activity was observed against the other oligo- and polysaccharides tested. The Bcara1 knockout mutants displayed reduced arabinanase activity in vitro and severe retardation in secondary lesion formation during infection of Arabidopsis leaves. These results indicate that BcAra1 is a novel endo-arabinanase and plays an important role during the infection of Arabidopsis. Interestingly, the level of Bcara1 transcript was considerably lower during the infection of Nicotiana benthamiana compared with Arabidopsis and, consequently, the ΔBcara1 mutants showed the wild-type level of virulence on N. benthamiana leaves. These results support the conclusion that the expression of Bcara1 is host dependent and is a key determinant of the disease outcome.

© 2014 The American Phytopathological Society