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Investigation of global transcriptional alterations in the Theobroma cacao x Moniliophthora perniciosa pathosystem during the progression of Witches Broom Disease of cacao

Grant number: 17/13015-7
Support type:Scholarships in Brazil - Doctorate (Direct)
Effective date (Start): July 01, 2017
Effective date (End): November 04, 2021
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Genetics - Molecular Genetics and Genetics of Microorganisms
Principal researcher:Gonçalo Amarante Guimarães Pereira
Grantee:Adrielle Ayumi de Vasconcelos
Home Institution: Instituto de Biologia (IB). Universidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP). Campinas , SP, Brazil
Associated research grant:16/10498-4 - Investigation of strategies of adaptation to the pathogenic life style of fungi from the Moniliophthora genus at various levels of biological organizations: species, biotypes, and geographic lineages, AP.TEM

Abstract

The basidiomycete fungus Moniliophthora perniciosa is the etiological agent of the Witches' Broom Disease of cacao. This is a pathogen with hemibiotrophic life cycle, meaning that the infection occurs initially in the living tissue of the host (biotrophic phase), evolving later to the death of the affected tissue (necrotrophic phase). The infection can occur in branches, fruits, flower buds and flowers, always from the meristem. M. perniciosa infects a range of hosts and is thus classified into biotypes according to the species susceptible to each isolate. The C¬ biotype infects T. cacao and other nearby species, whereas the S biotype infects only Solanaceae. The Bahian cocoa plantations account for 75% of the national production of cocoa beans. Thus, the arrival of M. perniciosa (biotype C) in this region led to enormous economic and social damages. Brazil has passed from exporter to importer of the commodity, and to the present day has not completely recovered from this scenario. Despite the great relevance of M. perniciosa in Brazil and other cocoa producing countries in Latin America, effective forms of control of this pathogen have not yet been developed. One of the factors related to this is the lack of knowledge about the molecular bases of the interaction in this pathosystem, which limits the development of directed fungal control strategies. A major advance in this aspect was the sequencing of the genome of M. perniciosa and the transcriptome of infected cacao branches and in the biotrophic phase of the interaction. Through the transcriptional alterations identified in the cacao tree, a model of the metabolic and hormonal modifications that occur during the witches' broom disease was created. Also, the M. perniciosa genes coding for proteins with possible modulation role of the plant defense system in the biotrophic stage were identified. However, it should be emphasized that much is still unknown about the virulence factors of M. perniciosa. This is a pathogen with a wide range of susceptible tissues and hosts, besides presenting morphological and physiological variation along the interaction. Finally, there are also indications of systemic changes in the host, including changes in the root. Therefore, some questions are still open, such as: 1) which virulence factors of M. perniciosa are general or tissue specific?; 2) how does transcriptional regulation occur in the pathogen and cocoa at other points of disease development (e.g., in addition to the green broom)?; 3) why is the S biotype not pathogenic in cocoa?; 4) do miRNAs and siRNAs play any relevant role during the interaction?; 5) what is the effect of infection on non-directly attacked tissues (roots)? The current version of Transcriptional Atlas does not have all the data needed to answer such questions, such as root and miRNA libraries other libraries have few biological replicas (i.e., dry broom). Therefore, the objective of this doctoral project is the expansion of the Transcriptomic Atlas and investigation of the issues raised above. (AU)

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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)
VASCONCELOS, ADRIELLE A.; JOSE, JULIANA; TOKIMATU, PAULO M.; CAMARGO, ANTONIO P.; TEIXEIRA, PAULO J. P. L.; THOMAZELLA, DANIELA P. T.; DO PRADO, V, PAULA F.; FIORIN, GABRIEL L.; COSTA, JULIANA L.; FIGUEIRA, ANTONIO; CARAZZOLLE, MARCELO F.; PEREIRA, GONCALO A. G.; BARONI, RENATA M. Adaptive evolution of Moniliophthora PR-1 proteins towards its pathogenic lifestyle. BMC ECOLOGY AND EVOLUTION, v. 21, n. 1 MAY 14 2021. Web of Science Citations: 0.
DE CARVALHO, L. M.; BORELLI, G.; CAMARGO, A. P.; DE ASSIS, M. A.; DE FERRAZ, S. M. F.; FIAMENGHI, M. B.; JOSE, J.; MOFATTO, L. S.; NAGAMATSU, S. T.; PERSINOTI, G. F.; SILVA, N. V.; VASCONCELOS, A. A.; PEREIRA, G. A. G.; CARAZZOLLE, M. F. Bioinformatics applied to biotechnology: A review towards bioenergy research. BIOMASS & BIOENERGY, v. 123, p. 195-224, APR 2019. Web of Science Citations: 1.

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