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Title: Genomics spurs rapid advances in our understanding of the biology of vascular wilt pathogens in the genus Verticillium

item KLIMES, ANNA - Western New England University
item DOBINSON, KATHERINE - Agriculture And Agri-Food Canada
item THOMMA, BART - Wageningen University
item Klosterman, Steven

Submitted to: Annual Review of Phytopathology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/3/2015
Publication Date: 8/1/2015
Citation: Klimes, A., Dobinson, K.F., Thomma, B.P.H.J., Klosterman, S.J. 2015. Genomics spurs rapid advances in our understanding of the biology of vascular wilt pathogens in the genus Verticillium. Annual Review of Phytopathology. 53:181-198.

Interpretive Summary: Verticillium dahliae and related fungal species in the genus Verticillium cause plant diseases on a range of economically important crops worldwide. These fungal pathogens infect the plant roots and enter the plant vascular system, disrupting vital water transport and causing characteristic wilt diseases. Analyses of the deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) sequences released within the past six years, covering the entire DNA content of several Verticillium species, have provided new insight on how pathogens in the genus Verticillium cause plant disease and evolve. This work summarizes the rapid progress in these areas, including the latest functional genomics analyses. Results from these functional analyses indicate the importance of the pathogen’s response to nutrient deficiencies and oxidative stress that occur within the plant. Taken together, these results suggest that conditions incurring host nutrient deficiencies cause long term survival structure formation, while other pathways that control protein secretion that influences pathogenic development directly suppress the formation of the long term pathogen survival structures. Knowledge of the types of mechanisms that regulate long term survival structure production in Verticillium dahliae, and related pathogens, may yield insight into alternative plant disease control strategies to combat destructive wilt diseases.

Technical Abstract: The availability of genomic sequences from Verticillium species has spawned a surge in functional genomics analyses, addressing a range of fundamental questions on the genes controlling the Verticillium lifecycle and disease process. These studies have also revealed evolutionary mechanisms, like hybridization and interchromosomal rearrangements, that have impacted these genomes. Functional analyses of a diverse group of genes indicates that successful colonization of the host xylem relies on specific responses to various stresses, including nutrient deficiency and oxidative stress, resulting from the host’s defenses. Regulatory pathways that control responses to changes in nutrient availability also appear to positively control resting structure development. Conversely, pathways that promote responses to host defenses, such as secretion of fungal effectors, appear to repress resting structure development. The genomics-enabled functional characterization of responses to the challenges presented by the xylem environment, accompanied by identification of novel virulence factors, has rapidly expanded our understanding of niche adaptation in Verticillium species.