Transcriptional Changes in Potato Sprouts upon Interaction with Rhizoctonia solani Indicate Pathogen-Induced Interference in the Defence Pathways of Potato

Rhizoctonia solani is the causer of black scurf disease on potatoes and is responsible for high economical losses in global agriculture. In order to increase the limited knowledge of the plants' molecular response to this pathogen, we inoculated potatoes with R. solani AG3-PT isolate Ben3 and carried out RNA sequencing with total RNA extracted from potato sprouts at three and eight days post inoculation (dpi). In this dual RNA-sequencing experiment, the necrotrophic lifestyle of R. solani AG3-PT during early phases of interaction with its host has already been characterised. Here the potato plants' comprehensive transcriptional response to inoculation with R. solani AG3 was evaluated for the first time based on significantly different expressed plant genes extracted with DESeq analysis. Overall, 1640 genes were differentially expressed, comparing control (-Rs) and with R. solani AG3-PT isolate Ben3 inoculated plants (+Rs). Genes involved in the production of anti-fungal proteins and secondary metabolites with antifungal properties were significantly up regulated upon inoculation with R. solani. Gene ontology (GO) terms involved in the regulation of hormone levels (i.e., ethylene (ET) and jasmonic acid (JA) at 3 dpi and salicylic acid (SA) and JA response pathways at 8 dpi) were significantly enriched. Contrastingly, the GO term "response to abiotic stimulus" was down regulated at both time points analysed. These results may support future breeding efforts toward the development of cultivars with higher resistance level to black scurf disease or the development of new control strategies.


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