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PLoS One. 2015 Mar 23;10(3):e0121828. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0121828. eCollection 2015.

Genes expressed in grapevine leaves reveal latent wood infection by the fungal pathogen Neofusicoccum parvum.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Nevada, Reno, Nevada, United States of America.
United States Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service, Davis, California, United States of America.
Department of Plant Pathology, University of California Davis, Davis, California, United States of America.


Some pathogenic species of the Botryosphaeriaceae have a latent phase, colonizing woody tissues while perennial hosts show no apparent symptoms until conditions for disease development become favorable. Detection of these pathogens is often limited to the later pathogenic phase. The latent phase is poorly characterized, despite the need for non-destructive detection tools and effective quarantine strategies, which would benefit from identification of host-based markers in leaves. Neofusicoccum parvum infects the wood of grapevines and other horticultural crops, killing the fruit-bearing shoots. We used light microscopy and high-resolution computed tomography (HRCT) to examine the spatio-temporal relationship between pathogen colonization and anatomical changes in stem sections. To identify differentially-expressed grape genes, leaves from inoculated and non-inoculated plants were examined using RNA-Seq. The latent phase occurred between 0 and 1.5 months post-inoculation (MPI), during which time the pathogen did not spread significantly beyond the inoculation site nor were there differences in lesion lengths between inoculated and non-inoculated plants. The pathogenic phase occurred between 1.5 and 2 MPI, when recovery beyond the inoculation site increased and lesion lengths of inoculated plants tripled. By 2 MPI, inoculated plants also had decreased starch content in xylem fibers and rays, and increased levels of gel-occluded xylem vessels, the latter of which HRCT revealed at a higher frequency than microscopy. RNA-Seq and screening of 21 grape expression datasets identified 20 candidate genes that were transcriptionally-activated by infection during the latent phase, and confirmed that the four best candidates (galactinol synthase, abscisic acid-induced wheat plasma membrane polypeptide-19 ortholog, embryonic cell protein 63, BURP domain-containing protein) were not affected by a range of common foliar and wood pathogens or abiotic stresses. Assuming such host responses are consistent among cultivars, and do not cross react with other trunk/foliar pathogens, these grape genes may serve as host-based markers of the latent phase of N. parvum infection.

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