Plant activation of host defense against pathogenic microbes requires significant host transcriptional reprogramming. In this study, we compared transcriptional changes in tomato during compatible and incompatible interactions with the foliar fungal pathogen Cladosporium fulvum and the vascular fungal pathogen Verticillium dahliae. Although both pathogens colonize different host tissues, they display distinct commonalities in their infection strategy; both pathogens penetrate natural openings and grow strictly extracellular. Furthermore, resistance against both pathogens is conveyed by the same class of resistance proteins, the receptor-like proteins. For each individual pathogen, the expression profile of the compatible and incompatible interaction largely overlaps. However, when comparing between the two pathogens, the C. fulvum-induced transcriptional changes show little overlap with those induced by V. dahliae. Moreover, within the subset of genes that are regulated by both pathogens, many genes show inverse regulation. With pathway reconstruction, networks of tomato genes implicated in photorespiration, hypoxia, and glycoxylate metabolism were identified that are repressed upon infection with C. fulvum and induced by V. dahliae. Similarly, auxin signaling is differentially affected by the two pathogens. Thus, differentially regulated pathways were identified with novel strategies that allowed the use of state-of-the-art tools, even though tomato is not a genetic model organism.
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