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Deciphering the role of secondary metabolites in the chemical interaction between phytopathogens and the citrus host

Grant number: 23/03831-2
Support Opportunities:Scholarships abroad - Research Internship - Post-doctor
Effective date (Start): February 01, 2024
Effective date (End): January 31, 2025
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Genetics - Molecular Genetics and Genetics of Microorganisms
Principal Investigator:Roberto Gomes de Souza Berlinck
Grantee:Evandro Aparecido da Silva
Supervisor: Luis Gonzáles Candelas
Host Institution: Instituto de Química de São Carlos (IQSC). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Carlos , SP, Brazil
Research place: Instituto de Agroquímica y Tecnología de Alimentos (IATA), Spain  
Associated to the scholarship:22/03594-8 - Understanding the chemical warfare and the virulence strategies of Penicillium digitatum involved in the pathogen- host interaction, BP.PD


Phytopathogens use specialized virulence strategies, including secondary metabolite production, to infect and colonize plants. Brazil's citrus industry suffers significant economic losses from fungal diseases such as green and blue molds caused by the fungi Penicillium digitatum and Penicillium italicum, respectively. Researches focuses mainly on treating symptoms, with little understanding of the molecular basis of infection. Consequently, our aim is to investigate the functionality of peptides produced by these phytopathogens in the host-pathogen interaction through molecular biology and genetic studies. The idea is to delete key genes involved in the biosynthesis of these metabolites, which would result in the production of mutant organisms deficient in the respective metabolites. These mutant organisms will be studied for their virulence towards the host. This research could provide insights into the strategies used by Penicillium species and other fungal phytopathogens to infect citrus. Understanding phytotoxin production in its biological context is an important step towards developing ways to protect citrus from fungal infections. (AU)

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