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Maize bushy stunt phytoplasma SMP11 effector protein: genetic comparison between isolates and role in maize bushy stunt phytoplasma symptomatology

Grant number: 12/51867-1
Support type:Scholarships in Brazil - Post-Doctorate
Effective date (Start): April 01, 2013
Effective date (End): July 31, 2015
Field of knowledge:Agronomical Sciences - Agronomy
Principal Investigator:Joao Roberto Spotti Lopes
Grantee:Maria Cristina Canale Rappussi da Silva
Home Institution: Escola Superior de Agricultura Luiz de Queiroz (ESALQ). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). Piracicaba , SP, Brazil
Associated scholarship(s):13/26982-4 - Maize bushy stunt phytoplasma SMP11 effector protein: interaction with Arabidopsis and Maize transcription factors and genomic comparison among isolates, BE.EP.PD


Phytoplasmas are vector-borne phloem-limited bacteria associated with various plant diseases. In Brazil, maize bushy stunt phytoplasma (MBSP) is transmitted by the com leafhoppper, Dalbulus maidis, and is associated with an important corn stunting disease characterized by leaf reddening, shortening of internodes, plant height reduction (stunting), lower grain yield and, occasionaly, lateral shoot production, which reaches epidemic levels and causes significant losses in maize crops. It has been recently shown that phytoplasmas have virulence proteins (effectors) that interfere with plant development and aid disease spread in nature by affecting plant defenses against vectors. The Aster yellows phytoplasma strain Witches' Broom (AY-WB) secretes the effector protein SAP11 (secreted aster protein 11), which destabilizes transcription factors that control plant development in Arabidopsis, inducing symptoms e.g. lateral shoot branching (witches' broom) and leaf crinkling; SAP 11 also inactivates genes involved in the synthesis of jasmonate, which is involved in plant defense against herbivores, allowing the lea'hooper vector Macrosteles quadrilineatus to produce a larger offspring on infected plants. Intestingly, a gene that codes for an homologous effector protein (secreted MBSP protein 11 - SMP11) was identified in a Mexican isolate of MBSP. We hypothesize that SMP11 gene is present in Brazilian populations of MBSP and may interact and destabilize transcription factors involved in maize plant development, inducing typical com stunt disease symptoms. Through cooperation with a specialist on functional genomics of phytoplasmas, Dr. Saskia Hogenhout (The John Innes Centre, UK), the post-doctoral researcher will investigate the presence and genetic variability of SMP11 in Brazilian isolates of MBSP, as well as the mode of action and role of SMP11 in MBSP symptomatology, for a better understanding of MBSP-maize genetic interaction and future application of this knowledge for developing plant resistance against the disease. (AU)

Scientific publications
(References retrieved automatically from Web of Science and SciELO through information on FAPESP grants and their corresponding numbers as mentioned in the publications by the authors)
PECHER, PASCAL; MORO, GABRIELE; CANALE, MARIA CRISTINA; CAPDEVIELLE, SYLVAIN; SINGH, ARCHANA; MACLEAN, ALLYSON; SUGIO, AKIKO; KUO, CHIH-HORNG; LOPES, JOAO R. S.; HOGENHOUT, SASKIA A. Phytoplasma SAP11 effector destabilization of TCP transcription factors differentially impact development and defence of Arabidopsis versus maize. PLOS PATHOGENS, v. 15, n. 9 SEP 2019. Web of Science Citations: 0.
ORLOVSKIS, ZIGMUNDS; CANALE, MARIA CRISTINA; HARYONO, MINDIA; SPOTTI LOPES, JOAO ROBERTO; KUO, CHIH-HORNG; HOGENHOUT, SASKIA A. A few sequence polymorphisms among isolates of Maize bushy stunt phytoplasma associate with organ proliferation symptoms of infected maize plants. ANNALS OF BOTANY, v. 119, n. 5, p. 869-884, MAR 2017. Web of Science Citations: 13.
ORLOVSKIS, ZIGMUNDS; CANALE, MARIA C.; THOLE, VERA; PECHER, PASCAL; LOPES, JOAO R. S.; HOGENHOUT, SASKIA A. Insect-borne plant pathogenic bacteria: getting a ride goes beyond physical contact. CURRENT OPINION IN INSECT SCIENCE, v. 9, p. 16-23, JUN 2015. Web of Science Citations: 23.

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