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Smut fungi as a stratagem to characterize rust effectors: opportunities and challenges

Authors
  • Jaswal, Rajdeep1
  • Rajarammohan, Sivasubramanian1
  • Dubey, Himanshu2
  • Sharma, T. R.1, 3
  • 1 National Agri-Food Biotechnology Institute (NABI), Sector-81 (Knowledge City), PO Manauli, S.A.S. Nagar, Mohali, Punjab, 140306, India , Mohali (India)
  • 2 ICAR-National Institute for Plant Biotechnology, Pusa Campus, New Delhi, 110012, India , New Delhi (India)
  • 3 Indian Council of Agricultural Research, New Delhi, 110001, India , New Delhi (India)
Type
Published Article
Journal
World Journal of Microbiology and Biotechnology
Publisher
Springer Netherlands
Publication Date
Sep 14, 2020
Volume
36
Issue
10
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1007/s11274-020-02927-x
Source
Springer Nature
Keywords
License
Yellow

Abstract

The rust pathogens are one of the most complex fungi in the Basidiomycetes. The development of genomic resources for rust and other plant pathogens has opened the opportunities for functional genomics of fungal genes. Despite significant progress in the field of fungal genomics, functional characterization of the genome components has lacked, especially for the rust pathogens. Their obligate nature and lack of standard stable transformation protocol are the primary reasons for rusts to be one of the least explored genera despite its significance. In the recently sequenced rust genomes, a vast catalogue of predicted effectors and pathogenicity genes have been reported. However, most of these candidate genes remained unexplored due to the lack of suitable characterization methods. The heterologous expression of putative effectors in Nicotiana benthamiana and Arabidopsis thaliana has proved to be a rapid screening method for identifying the role of these effectors in virulence. However, no fungal system has been used for the functional validation of these candidate genes. The smuts, from the evolutionary point of view, are closely related to the rust pathogens. Moreover, they have been widely studied and hence could be a suitable model system for expressing rust fungal genes heterologously. The genetic manipulation methods for smuts are also well standardized. Complementation assays can be used for functional validation of the homologous genes present in rust and smut fungal pathogens, while the species-specific proteins can be expressed in the mutant strains of smut pathogens having reduced or no virulence for virulence analysis. We propose that smuts, especially Ustilago maydis, may prove to be a good model system to characterize rust effector proteins in the absence of methods to manipulate the rust genomes directly.

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