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ARS Home » Plains Area » Fargo, North Dakota » Edward T. Schafer Agricultural Research Center » Sugarbeet and Potato Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #380329

Research Project: Increasing Sugar Beet Productivity and Sustainability through Genetic and Physiological Approaches

Location: Sugarbeet and Potato Research

Title: Fungal social influencers: Secondary metabolites as a platform for shaping the plant-associated community

item Rangel, Lorena
item HAMILTON, OLIVIA - North Dakota State University
item DE JONGE, RONNIE - Utrecht University
item Bolton, Melvin

Submitted to: The Plant Journal
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/3/2021
Publication Date: 9/12/2021
Citation: Rangel, L., Hamilton, O., De Jonge, R., Bolton, M.D. 2021. Fungal social influencers: Secondary metabolites as a platform for shaping the plant-associated community. The Plant Journal. 108(3):632-645.

Interpretive Summary: Fungal secondary metabolites are small molecules that do not always have a clear role in the lifestyle of the producing fungus. These metabolites are not necessary for the survival of the fungus but usually benefit the producing fungus in specific niches. Here, we aim to establish a systematic contextual framework for understanding the contributions of fungal secondary metabolites in shaping plant physiology by mediating both antagonistic and cooperative inter-fungal, fungal-bacterial, and fungal-animal interactions. Fungal secondary metabolites that influence the bacterial community that live on the plant were particularly emphasized. Finally, research methods to discover and classify fungal secondary metabolites was also covered. Taken together, we show that research on secondary metabolites will help decode the fungal 'language' they mediate, which will strengthen the genetic basis of plant disease resistance to help safeguard agriculture against important pests and pathogens.

Technical Abstract: Fungal secondary metabolites (FSMs) are capable of manipulating plant community dynamics by inhibiting or facilitating the establishment of co-habitating organisms. Although production of FSMs is not crucial for survival of the producer, their absence can indirectly impair growth and/or niche competition of these fungi on the plant. Presence of FSMs with no obvious consequence on the fitness of the producer leaves questions regarding ecological impact. This review investigates how fungi employ FSMs as a platform to mediate fungal-fungal, fungal-bacterial, and fungal-animal interactions associated with the plant community. We discuss how the biological function of FSMs may indirectly benefit the producer by altering the dynamics of surrounding organisms. We introduce several instances where FSMs influence antagonistic- or alliance-driven interactions. Part of our aim is to decipher the meaning of the FSM ‘language’ since it is widely noted to impact the surrounding community. Here, we highlight the contribution of FSMs to plant-associated interaction networks that affect the host either broadly or in ways that may have previously been unclear.