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The Parastagonospora nodorum necrotrophic effector SnTox5 targets the wheat gene Snn5 and facilitates entry into the leaf mesophyll

By Gayan K. Kariyawasam, Jonathon Richards, Nathan A. Wyatt, Katherine Running, Steven S. Xu, Zhaohui Liu, Pawel Borowicz, Justin D. Faris, Timothy Friesen

Posted 28 Feb 2021
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2021.02.26.433117

Parastagonospora nodorum, causal agent of septoria nodorum blotch, is a destructive necrotrophic fungal pathogen of wheat. P. nodorum is known to secrete several necrotrophic effectors that target wheat susceptibility genes that trigger classical biotrophic resistance responses but resulting in susceptibility rather than resistance. SnTox5 targets the wheat susceptibility gene Snn5 to induce necrosis. In this study, we used full genome sequences of 197 P. nodorum isolates collected from the US and their disease phenotyping on the Snn5 differential line LP29, to perform genome wide association study analysis to localize the SnTox5 gene to chromosome 8 of P. nodorum. SnTox5 was validated using gene transformation and CRISPR-Cas9 based gene disruption. SnTox5 encoded a small secreted protein with a 22 and 45 amino acid secretion signal and a pro sequence, respectively. The SnTox5 gene is under purifying selection in the Upper Midwest but under strong diversifying selection in the South/East regions of the US. Comparison of wild type and SnTox5-disrupted strains on wheat lines with and without the susceptibility target Snn5 showed that SnTox5 has two functions, 1) facilitating colonization of the mesophyll layer, and 2) targeting Snn5 to induce programmed cell death to provide cellular nutrient to complete its necrotrophic life cycle.

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