The role of cytokinins in clubroot disease.

Malinowski, R., Novák, O., Borhan, M.H., Spíchal, L., Strnad, M., and Rolfe, S.A. (2016). "The role of cytokinins in clubroot disease.", European Journal of Plant Pathology, pp. 1-15. doi : 10.1007/s10658-015-0845-y  Access to full text


Clubroot (Plasmodiophora brassicae) is a pathogen of Brassicaceae that causes significant reductions in yield as a consequence of gall formation in the root and hypocotyl of infected plants. The pathogen hijacks host vascular cambium development, and cytokinins are implicated in this process. This paper uses transcriptomics and metabolomics to investigate changes in cytokinin metabolism during gall formation of clubroot-infected Arabidopsis thaliana. RNASeq analysis of infected tissue showed that host cytokinin metabolism was strongly down-regulated both at the onset and late stages of gall formation. Expression of host genes associated with cytokinin biosynthesis, signalling, degradation and conjugation was strongly repressed. Analysis of cytokinin precursors, active components and conjugates by microanalytical techniques was consistent with these transcriptional responses. Two isopentenyltransferase genes associated with cytokinin biosynthesis are present in the P. brassicae genome and are expressed throughout gall formation. The impact of pathogen-derived cytokinins on the total cytokinin content of infected tissue and host gene expression was minimal in wild type plants. However, infection of ipt1;3;5;7 mutants that are severely restricted in their ability to synthesise active cytokinins led to an increase in expression of host cytokinin-responsive genes. We interpret these results as indicating that P. brassicae can synthesise small amounts of cytokinin, but this has little impact on the host plant as the ipt1;3;5;7 phenotype is not rescued. Intriguingly, plasmodial development was slowed and spore viability reduced in these mutants indicating a potential role for cytokinins in plasmodial development.

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