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RNA sequencing analysis provides new insights into dynamic molecular responses to Valsa mali pathogenicity in apple ‘Changfu No. 2’

Cunwu Zuo, Juan Mao, Zhongjian Chen, Mingyu Chu, Hu Duo, Baihong Chen
Tree genetics & genomes 2018 v.14 no.5 pp. 75
Valsa mali, abscisic acid, apples, auxins, biosynthesis, breeding, calcium, calcium signaling, cell walls, crop production, cultivars, gene expression regulation, gene ontology, growth and development, jasmonic acid, pathogenicity, pathogens, phloem, plant development, plant growth, plant response, resistance genes, sequence analysis, East Asia
Valsa canker caused by the necrotrophic pathogen Valsa mali (Vm) severely affects apple production in Eastern Asia. The molecular basis underlying the apple response to Vm infection is poorly understood. Hence, we performed RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) to investigate the dynamic gene expression profiles of a major apple cultivar, ‘Changfu No.2’, during Vm infection. Compared with the control (C), 104, 313, and 1059 differentially expressed genes (DEGs) were detected from the phloem tissue within the range of 0.9–1.3 cm (T1), 0.5–0.9 cm (T2), and 0.1–0.5 cm (T3) beyond the lesion periphery, respectively. Gene ontology (GO) enrichment analysis revealed that the DEGs associated with plant growth and development were down-regulated, whereas those related to defense responses were up-regulated. Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG) analysis showed that hormonal and Ca²⁺ signaling and phenylpropanoid biosynthesis were involved in the defense responses. In conclusion, multiple defense responses associated with ABA, JA, ET, Ca²⁺, and cell wall signals contributed to the defense against Vm infection in ‘Changfu No.2’. In contrast, the DEGs with inhibited expression were involved in plant growth and development; auxin signaling and several resistance genes might weaken the resistance of ‘Changfu No.2’ to pathogens. Our results offer a new insight into plant responses against necrotrophs and could benefit programs aimed at breeding for Vm resistance.