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Gene deletion of Corynespora cassiicola cassiicolin Cas1 suppresses virulence in the rubber tree

Ribeiro S., Tran D.M., Déon M., Clément-Demange A., Garcia D., Soumahoro M., Masson A., Pujade-Renaud V.. 2019. Fungal Genetics and Biology, 129 : p. 101-114.

DOI: 10.1016/j.fgb.2019.05.004

Corynespora cassiicola is an ascomycete fungus causing important damages in a wide range of plant hosts, including rubber tree. The small secreted protein cassiicolin is suspected to play a role in the onset of the disease in rubber tree, based on toxicity and gene expression profiles. However, its exact contribution to virulence, compared to other putative effectors, remains unclear. We created a deletion mutant targeting the cassiicolin gene Cas1 from the highly aggressive isolate CCP. Wild-type CCP and mutant ccp¿cas1 did not differ in terms of mycelium growth, sporulation, and germination rate in vitro. Cas1 gene deletion induced a complete loss of virulence on the susceptible clones PB260 and IRCA631, as revealed by inoculation experiments on intact (non-detached) leaves. However, residual symptoms persisted when inoculations were conducted on detached leaves, notably with longer incubation times. Complementation with exogenous cassiicolin restored the mutant capacity to colonize the leaf tissues. We also compared the toxicity of CCP and ccp¿cas1 culture filtrates, through electrolyte leakage measurements on abraded detached leaves, over a range of clones as well as an F1 population derived from the cross between the clones PB260 (susceptible) and RRIM600 (tolerant). On average, filtrate toxicity was lower but not fully suppressed in ccp¿cas1 compared to CCP, with clone-dependent variations. The two QTL, previously found associated with sensitivity to CPP filtrate or to the purified cassiicolin, were no longer detected with the mutant filtrate, while new QTL were revealed. Our results demonstrate that: (1) cassiicolin is a necrotrophic effector conferring virulence to the CCP isolate in susceptible rubber clones and (2) other effectors produced by CCP contribute to residual filtrate toxicity and virulence in senescing/wounded tissues. These other effectors may be involved in saprotrophy rather than necrotrophy.

Mots-clés : corynespora cassiicola; expression des gènes; hevea brasiliensis; mutagénèse; effecteur moléculaire; virulence; délétion (génétique)

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