The role of the defoliating protein homologs on the virulence of Fusarium spp.

Proponente Luigi Faino - Professore Associato
Sottosettore ERC del proponente del progetto
Componenti gruppo di ricerca

Plant pathogens are specialized organisms that can manipulate and/or suppress plant immunity. Effectors are small-secreted proteins that are induced during plant infection and are essential factors for the manipulation of plant immunity. Verticillium dahliae is a soil-borne fungus that causes Verticillium wilt disease in a more than 200 plants. V. dahliae strains are assigned to ¿pathotypes¿ based on their virulence on a particular host. For instance, V. dahliae strains that are highly virulent and cause rapid and severe defoliation on cotton (Gossypium hirsutum) and olive (Olea europaea) are referred to as strains of the defoliating (D) pathotype; the strains that are less virulent and only induce wilting symptoms without defoliation on the same host are referred as non-defoliating (ND) pathotype.
In the last few years, several V. dahliae genomes were sequenced in order to identify the gene causing defoliation on cotton and olives tree. In 2012, a research activity was initiated by the project lead in Thomma`s group at the Laboratory of Phytopathology of the Wageningen University (the Netherlands), which led to the identification of the causal gene for defoliation (D-gene) in cotton upon Verticillium dahliae infection. Subsequently, homologues to the V. dahliae D-gene were identified in other Verticillium species like V. alfalfae and V. longisporum and in more unrelated soil-borne pathogens belonging to Fusarium spp.
Soil-borne pathogens are notoriously difficult to eradicate from the soil and few fungicides can be applied to control the related disease. Therefore, the most used strategy to manage soil-borne pathogen is to breed for resistant plants. The project aims to the understanding of the role of the D-gene during Verticillium and Fusarium infection, its way of action in plant and, therefore, exploit the knowledge to suggest a breeding strategy against fungal species carrying the D-gene.

LS8_3, LS6_5, LS9_1

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