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Down-regulation of defense genes and resource allocation into infected roots as factors for compatibility between Fagus sylvatica and Phytophthora citricola

Schlink, Katja
Functional & integrative genomics 2010 v.10 no.2 pp. 253-264
Fagus sylvatica, Phytophthora citricola, ethylene, gene expression, gene induction, genes, jasmonic acid, leaves, pathogens, resource allocation, roots, salicylic acid
Phytophthora citricola is a wide spread and highly aggressive pathogen of Fagus sylvatica. The hemibiotrophic oomycete infects the roots and establishes a compatible interaction with F. sylvatica. To investigate the transcriptional changes associated with P. citricola infection, 68 custom oligo-microarray measurements were conducted. Hierarchical as well as non-hierarchical clustering was carried out to analyze the expression profiles. Experimental setup includes a time scale covering the biotrophic and necrotrophic stages of interaction as well as comparative analyses of the local and systemic responses. The local reaction of F. sylvatica is characterized by a striking lack of defense gene induction leading to the conclusion that P. citricola escapes the main recognition systems and/or suppresses the host's response. The analysis of the systemic reaction revealed a massive shift in gene expression patterns during the biotrophic phase that is interpreted as evidence of resource allocation into the roots to support the increased sink caused by pathogen growth. Defense genes known to be responsive to salicylic acid (effective against biotrophs), jasmonic acid, and ethylene (effective against necrotrophs and herbivores) are represented on the arrays. All significant changes in gene expression measured for salicylic acid responsive genes were down-regulations in roots and leaves while some jasmonic acid responsive genes showed a very late up-regulation only in leaves, probably caused by the desiccation shortly before plant death. Together, these expression changes could explain the success of the pathogen.