Organisms are exposed to a tough environment, where acute daily challenges, like light, can strongly affect several aspects of an individual's physiology, including pathogenesis. While several fungal models have been widely employed to understand the physiological and molecular events associated with light perception, various other agricultural-relevant fungi still remain, in terms of their responsiveness to light, in the dark. The fungus Botrytis cinerea is an aggressive pathogen able to cause disease on a wide range of plant species. Natural B. cinerea isolates exhibit a high degree of diversity in their predominant mode of reproduction. Thus, the majority of naturally occurring strains are known to reproduce asexually via conidia and sclerotia, and sexually via apothecia. Studies from the 1970's reported on specific developmental responses to treatments with near-UV, blue, red and far-red light. To unravel the signaling machinery triggering development - and possibly also connected with virulence - we initiated the functional characterization of the transcription factor/photoreceptor BcWCL1 and its partner BcWCL2, that form the White Collar Complex (WCC) in B. cinerea. Using mutants either abolished in or exhibiting enhanced WCC signaling (overexpression of both bcwcl1 and bcwcl2), we demonstrate that the WCC is an integral part of the mentioned machinery by mediating transcriptional responses to white light and the inhibition of conidiation in response to this stimulus. Furthermore, the WCC is required for coping with excessive light, oxidative stress and also to achieve full virulence. Although several transcriptional responses are abolished in the absence of bcwcl1, the expression of some genes is still light induced and a distinct conidiation pattern in response to daily light oscillations is enhanced, revealing a complex underlying photobiology. Though overlaps with well-studied fungal systems exist, the light-associated machinery of B. cinerea appears more complex than those of Neurospora crassa and Aspergillus nidulans. © 2013 Canessa et al.
Canessa, P., Schumacher, J., Hevia, M. A., Tudzynski, P., & Larrondo, L. F. (2013). Assessing the effects of light on differentiation and virulence of the plant pathogen botrytis cinerea: Characterization of the white collar complex. PLoS ONE, 8(12). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0084223