Multiple knockout mutants reveal a high redundancy of phytotoxic compounds contributing to necrotrophic pathogenesis of Botrytis cinerea

  • Botrytis cinerea is a major plant pathogen infecting more than 1400 plant species. During invasion, the fungus rapidly kills host cells, which is believed to be supported by induction of programmed plant cell death. To comprehensively evaluate the contributions of most of the currently known plant cell death inducing proteins (CDIPs) and metabolites for necrotrophic infection, an optimized CRISPR/Cas9 protocol was established which allowed to perform serial marker-free mutagenesis to generate multiple deletion mutants lacking up to 12 CDIPs. Whole genome sequencing of a 6x and 12x deletion mutant revealed a low number of off-target mutations which were unrelated to Cas9-mediated cleavage. Secretome analyses confirmed the loss of secreted proteins encoded by the deleted genes. Infection tests with the mutants revealed a successive decrease in virulence with increasing numbers of mutated genes, and varying effects of the knockouts on different host plants. Comparative analysis of mutants confirmed significant roles of two polygalacturonases (PG1, PG2) and the phytotoxic metabolites botrydial and botcinins for infection, but revealed no or only weak effects of deletion of the other CDIPs. Nicotiana benthamiana plants with mutated or silenced coreceptors of pattern recognition receptors, SOBIR1 and BAK1, showed similar susceptibility as control plants to infection by B. cinerea wild type and a 12x deletion mutant. These results raise doubts about a major role of manipulation of these plant defence regulators for B. cinerea infection. Despite the loss of most of the known phytotoxic compounds, the on planta secretomes of the multiple mutants retained substantial phytotoxic activity, proving that further, as yet unknown CDIPs contribute to necrosis and virulence. Our study has addressed for the first time systematically the functional redundancy of fungal virulence factors, and demonstrates that B. cinerea releases a highly redundant cocktail of proteins to achieve necrotrophic infection of a wide variety of host plants.

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Author:Thomas LeisenORCiD, Janina WernerORCiD, Patrick Pattar, Nassim Safari, Edita Ymeri, Frederik SommerORCiD, Michael SchrodaORCiD, Ivonne Suárez, Isidro G. Collado, David ScheuringORCiD, Matthias HahnORCiD
Parent Title (English):Plos Pathogens
Document Type:Working Paper
Language of publication:English
Publication Date:2022/12/09
Year of Publication:2022
Publishing Institute:Technische Universität Kaiserslautern
Date of the Publication (Server):2022/12/12
Tag:Botrytis cinerea; mutants; plant pathogen
Issue:18(3): e1010367
Number of page:28
Source: ppat.1010367
Faculties / Organisational entities:Kaiserslautern - Fachbereich Biologie
DDC-Cassification:5 Naturwissenschaften und Mathematik / 500 Naturwissenschaften
Licence (German):Zweitveröffentlichung