© 2016 by the authors; licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. Tung oil tree (Vernicia fordii) is a promising industrial oil crop; however, this tree is highly susceptible to Fusarium wilt disease. Conversely, Vernicia montana is resistant to the pathogen. The APETALA2/ethylene-responsive element binding factor (AP2/ERF) transcription factor superfamily has been reported to play a significant role in resistance to Fusarium oxysporum. In this study, comprehensive analysis identified 75 and 81 putative Vf/VmAP2/ERF transcription factor-encoding genes in V. fordii and V. montana, respectively, which were divided into AP2, ERF, related to ABI3 and VP1 (RAV) and Soloist families. After F. oxysporum infection, a majority of AP2/ERF superfamily genes showed strong patterns of repression in both V. fordii and V. montana. We then identified 53 pairs of one-to-one orthologs in V. fordii and V. montana, with most pairs of orthologous genes exhibiting similar expression in response to the pathogen. Further investigation of Vf/VmAP2/ERF gene expression in plant tissues indicated that the pairs of genes with different expression patterns in response to F. oxysporum tended to exhibit different tissue profiles in the two species. In addition, VmAP2/ERF036, showing the strongest interactions with 666 genes, was identified as a core hub gene mediating resistance. Moreover, qRT-PCR results indicated VmAP2/ERF036 showed repressed expression while its orthologous gene VfAP2/ERF036 had the opposite expression pattern during pathogen infection. Overall, comparative analysis of the Vf/VmAP2/ERF superfamily and indication of a potential hub resistance gene in resistant and susceptible Vernicia species provides valuable information for understanding the molecular basis and selection of essential functional genes for V. fordii genetic engineering to control Fusarium wilt disease.
Zhang, Q., Gao, M., Wu, L., Wang, Y., & Chen, Y. (2016). Divergent expression patterns in two Vernicia species revealed the potential role of the hub gene VmAP2/ERF036 in resistance to Fusarium oxysporum in Vernicia montana. Genes, 7(12). https://doi.org/10.3390/genes7120109