BACKGROUND: The secreted Meloidogyne javanica fatty acid- and retinol-binding (FAR) protein Mj-FAR-1 is involved in nematode development and reproduction in host tomato roots. To gain further insight into the role of Mj-FAR-1 in regulating disease development, local transcriptional changes were monitored in tomato hairy root lines with constitutive mj-far-1 expression compared with control roots without inoculation, and 2, 5 and 15 days after inoculation (DAI), using mRNA sequencing analysis. RESULTS: Gene-expression profiling revealed a total of 3970 differentially expressed genes (DEGs) between the two lines. Among the DEGs, 1093, 1039, 1959, and 1328 genes were up- or downregulated 2-fold with false discovery rate < 0.001 in noninoculated roots, and roots 2, 5, and 15 DAI compared with control roots, respectively. Four main groups of genes that might be associated with Mj-FAR-1-mediated susceptibility were identified: 1) genes involved in biotic stress responses such as pathogen-defense mechanisms and hormone metabolism; 2) genes involved in phenylalanine and phenylpropanoid metabolism; 3) genes associated with cell wall synthesis, modification or degradation; and 4) genes associated with lipid metabolism. All of these genes were overrepresented among the DEGs. Studying the distances between the treatments, samples from noninoculated roots and roots at 2 DAI clustered predominantly according to the temporal dynamics related to nematode infection. However, at the later time points (5 and 15 DAI), samples clustered predominantly according to mj-far-1 overexpression, indicating that at these time points Mj-FAR-1 is more important in defining a common transcriptome. CONCLUSIONS: The presence of four groups of DEGs demonstrates a network of molecular events is mediated by Mj-FAR-1 that leads to highly complex manipulation of plant defense responses against nematode invasion. The results shed light on the in vivo role of secreted FAR proteins in parasitism, and add to the mounting evidence that secreted FAR proteins play a major role in nematode parasitism.
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