Differential gene expression between the biotrophic-like and the saprotrophic mycelia of the Witches broom pathogen Moniliophthora perniciosa
Moniliophthora perniciosa is a hemibiotrophic fungus that causes witches’ broom disease (WBD) in cacao. Marked dimorphism characterizes this fungus, showing a monokaryotic or biotrophic phase that causes disease symptoms and a later dikaryotic or saprotrophic phase. A combined strategy of DNA microarray, expressed sequence tag, and real-time reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction analyses was employed to analyze differences between these two fungal stages in vitro. In all, 1,131 putative genes were hybridized with cDNA from different phases, resulting in 189 differentially expressed genes, and 4,595 reads were clusterized, producing 1,534 unigenes. The analysis of these genes, which represent approximately 21% of the total genes, indicates that the biotrophic-like phase undergoes carbon and nitrogen catabolite repression that correlates to the expression of phytopathogenicity genes. Moreover, downregulation of mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation and the presence of a putative ngr1 of Saccharomyces cerevisiae could help explain its lower growth rate. In contrast, the saprotrophic mycelium expresses genes related to the metabolism of hexoses, ammonia, and oxidative phosphorylation, which could explain its faster growth. Antifungal toxins were upregulated and could prevent the colonization by competing fungi. This work significantly contributes to our understanding of the molecular mechanisms of WBD and, to our knowledge, is the first to analyze differential gene expression of the different phases of a hemibiotrophic fungus.

Apoio financeiro: Fapesp, CNPq, Capes, Cargill, Secretaria de Agricultura do Estado da Bahi


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