Plasticity of Phymatotrichopsis onmivora infection strategies is dependent on host and nonhost plant responses
Prasanna Kankanala, Piet Jones, Raja Sekhar Nandety, Daniel A. Jacobson, and Kirankumar S. Mysore
13 January 2020, Plant, Cell & Environment; doi: 10.1111/pce.13721
Necrotrophic fungi constitute the largest group of plant fungal pathogens that cause heavy crop losses worldwide. Phymatotrichopsis omnivora is a broad host, soil‐borne necrotrophic fungal pathogen that infects over 2,000 dicotyledonous plants. The molecular basis of such broad host range is unknown. We conducted cell biology and transcriptomic studies in Medicago truncatula (susceptible), Brachypodium distachyon (resistant/nonhost), and Arabidopsis thaliana (partially resistant) to understand P. omnivora virulence mechanisms. We performed defence gene analysis, gene enrichments, and correlational network studies during key infection stages. We identified that P. omnivora infects the susceptible plant as a traditional necrotroph. However, it infects the partially resistant plant as a hemi‐biotroph triggering salicylic acid‐mediated defence pathways in the plant. Further, the infection strategy in partially resistant plants is determined by the host responses during early infection stages. Mutant analyses in A. thaliana established the role of small peptides PEP1 and PEP2 in defence against P. omnivora. The resistant/nonhost B. distachyon triggered stress responses involving sugars and aromatic acids. Bdwat1 mutant analysis identified the role of cell walls in defence. This is the first report that describes the plasticity in infection strategies of P. omnivora providing insights into broad host range.