Genes differentially expressed in Theobroma cacao associated with resistance to witches' broom disease caused by Crinipellis perniciosa.

Research paper by Gildemberg Amorim GA Leal, Paulo S B PS Albuquerque, Antonio A Figueira

Indexed on: 01 May '07Published on: 01 May '07Published in: Molecular Plant Pathology


SUMMARY The basidiomycete Crinipellis perniciosa is the causal agent of witches' broom disease of Theobroma cacao (cocoa). Hypertrophic growth of infected buds ('brooms') is the most dramatic symptom, but the main economic losses derive from pod infection. To identify cocoa genes differentially expressed during the early stages of infection, two cDNA libraries were constructed using the suppression subtractive hybridization (SSH) approach. Subtraction hybridization was conducted between cDNAs from infected shoot-tips of the susceptible genotype 'ICS 39' and the resistant 'CAB 214', in both directions. A total of 187 unique sequences were obtained, with 83 from the library enriched for the susceptible 'ICS 39' sequences, and 104 for the resistant 'CAB 214'. By homology search and ontology analyses, the identified sequences were mainly putatively categorized as belonging to 'signal transduction', 'response to biotic and abiotic stress', 'metabolism', 'RNA and DNA metabolism', 'protein metabolism' and 'cellular maintenance' classes. Quantitative reverse transcription amplification (RT-qPCR) of 23 transcripts identified as differentially expressed between genotypes revealed distinct kinetics of gene up-regulation at the asymptomatic stage of the disease. Expression induction in the susceptible 'ICS 39' in response to C. perniciosa was delayed and limited, while in 'CAB 214' there was a quicker and more intense reaction, with two peaks of gene induction at 48 and 120 h after inoculation, corresponding to morphological and biochemical changes previously described during colonization. Similar differences in gene induction were validated for another resistant genotype ('CAB 208') in an independent experiment. Validation of these genes corroborated similar hypothetical mechanisms of resistance described in other pathosystems.