University of Cambridge > > Plant Sciences Departmental Seminars > How biotrophic fungi manipulate their hosts: new functions of effectors

How biotrophic fungi manipulate their hosts: new functions of effectors

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Smut fungi are a large group of biotrophic pathogens that infect cereal crops and grasses. The best studied member of this group, Ustilago maydis, infects maize and induces characteristic tumor formation and anthocyanin induction. During host colonization, U. maydis establishes an extended interaction zone with the plant in which fungal hyphae are completely encased by the host plasma membrane. Interaction with the plant is largely determined by protein effectors that are conventionally secreted and exert their function either in the interaction zone or are taken up by host cells and reprogram host responses. Many of these effectors are novel, exist only in related smut fungi and locate to clusters in the genome. Several of these effectors function in the interaction zone by inhibiting plant enzymes, while others are taken up and function in the cytosol of host cells. In my presentation I will concentrate on the functional analysis of the largest effector gene cluster of U. maydis, encoding 24 effector genes. Among these are several effectors that contribute to virulence. I will focus on two of these: Tin3, an effector for which we propose a dual function in the interaction zone as well as inside plant cells, and Tin2, a transferred effector responsible for inducing anthocyanin biosynthesis. I will describe their sites of action and how and why they modulate host functions after uptake.

This talk is part of the Plant Sciences Departmental Seminars series.

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