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Functional characterization of the transcription factor SPL during sugarcane-smut interaction

Grant number: 19/22911-1
Support type:Scholarships in Brazil - Scientific Initiation
Effective date (Start): July 01, 2020
Effective date (End): June 30, 2021
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Genetics - Molecular Genetics and Genetics of Microorganisms
Principal Investigator:Claudia Barros Monteiro Vitorello
Grantee:Lâina da Silva de Oliveira
Home Institution: Escola Superior de Agricultura Luiz de Queiroz (ESALQ). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). Piracicaba , SP, Brazil

Abstract

One of the major impediments to sustainable agriculture is the persistence of pests and diseases. The disruption of an ecosystem and large-scale monoculture cropping systems lead to the emergence of diseases needing control in order to maintain a productive agricultural system. The research line of the Genomics Group of the Microorganisms Genetics Laboratory of the Department of Genetics-ESALQ involves the molecular aspects of plant-pathogen interactions in order to provide relevant information to plant breeding programs. The crop of interest is sugar cane. Among the diseases that hinder its production, smut found in all production areas of the world is one of them. For the past seven years, our research group has been studying the various aspects of this pathosystem with several published articles with the participation of undergrad, Master, and Doctoral students. Due to the experimental difficulties of using sugarcane in studies involving molecular approaches, since last year, the group started to investigate the possibility of using the Arabidopsis thaliana as a model plant. The work developed by the master student Mariana Marrofon (FAPESP No. 2018 / 02156-1) of the Plant Genetics and Breeding Program revealed that S. scitamineum penetrates and colonizes Arabidopsis tissues via appressorium formation and that the interaction alters the expression of genes from both plant and fungus. The genes analyzed so far are candidates for fungal effectors and genes associated with meristematic functions of the plant, locality of fungal colonization. Previous work developed by the candidate (PIBIC-CNPq-USP) found variation in the aggressiveness level of isolates from two haplotypes, SSC39 and SSC04. The candidate was awarded an Honorable Mention in the 2018 SIICUSP Event for her presentation. The complete genome of SS39 isolate is determined (Taniguti et al., 2015), and that of the SSC04 isolate is nearing completion. In this project, continuing the investigation toward the understanding of the modulation of plant gene expression by the fungus, we intend to detail the expression of some genes during the interaction Arabidopsis/S. scitamineum relevant to the colonization process in experiments considering the two isolates. At the same time, the same genes will be analyzed during the sugarcane-Sporisorium interaction.