Infection-related development of phytopathogenic fungi is initiated by sensing and responding to plant surface cues. This response can result in the formation of specialized infection structures, so-called appressoria. To unravel the program inducing filaments and appressoria in the biotrophic smut fungus Ustilago maydis, we exposed cells to a hydrophobic surface and the cutin monomer 16-hydroxy hexadecanoic acid. Genome-wide transcriptional profiling at the pre-penetration stage documented dramatic transcriptional changes in almost 20% of the genes. Comparisons with the U. maydis sho1 msb2 double mutant, lacking two putative sensors for plant surface cues, revealed that these plasma membrane receptors regulate a small subset of the surface cue-induced genes comprising mainly secreted proteins including potential plant cell wall degrading enzymes. Targeted gene deletion analysis ascribed a role to up-regulated GH51 and GH62 arabinofuranosidases during plant penetration. Among the sho1/msb2-dependently expressed genes were several secreted effectors that are essential for virulence. Our data also demonstrate specific effects on two transcription factors that redirect the transcriptional regulatory network towards appressorium formation and plant penetration. This shows that plant surface cues prime U. maydis for biotrophic development.
Lanver, D., Berndt, P., Tollot, M., Naik, V., Vranes, M., Warmann, T., … Kahmann, R. (2014). Plant Surface Cues Prime Ustilago maydis for Biotrophic Development. PLoS Pathogens, 10(7). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.ppat.1004272