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Chlorophyll fluorescence imaging for monitoring effects of Heterobasidion parviporum small secreted protein induced cell death and in planta defense gene expression

Wen, Zilan, Raffaello, Tommaso, Zeng, Zhen, Pavicic, Mirko, Asiegbu, Fred O.
Fungal genetics and biology 2019 v.126 pp. 37-49
Heterobasidion, Nicotiana benthamiana, Picea abies, chitinase, chlorophyll, ethylene, fungi, gene expression, gene expression regulation, genes, image analysis, monitoring, pathogens, photosynthesis, programmed cell death, protein secretion, transcription (genetics), transcription factors
Heterobasidion parviporum Niemelä & Korhonen is a necrotrophic fungal pathogen of Norway spruce (Picea abies). The H. parviporum genome encodes numerous necrotrophic small secreted proteins (SSP) which might be important for promoting and sustaining the disease development. However, their transcriptional dynamics and plant defense response during infection are largely unknown. In this study, we identified a necrotrophic SSP named HpSSP35.8 and its coding gene was highly expressed in the pre-symptomatic phase of the host (Norway spruce) infection. We explored the impact of HpSSP35.8 on non-host Nicotiana benthamiana using Agrobacterium-mediated transient expression system under visible spectrum RGB imaging and chlorophyll fluorescence imaging. The results showed that HpSSP35.8 triggered a form of SSP-associated programmed cell death, accompanied by a decrease in the plant photosynthetic activity. Defense-related genes including WRKY12, ethylene response factor (ERF1α) and a chitinase gene PR4 were up-regulated in both HpSSP35.8-N. benthamiana interaction and H. parviporum-Norway spruce pathosystem. This study also highlighted the potential to use the chlorophyll fluorescence imaging approach to monitor both the indirect effects of SSP and also for the selection of other potential effector-like protein candidates.