Proteomic profiling of two maize inbreds during early gibberella ear rot infection



Fusarium graminearum is the causal agent of gibberella ear rot in maize ears, resulting in yield losses due to mouldy and mycotoxin-contaminated grain. This study represents a global proteomic approach to document the early infection by F. graminearum of two maize inbreds, B73 and CO441, which differ in disease susceptibility. Mock- and F. graminearum-treated developing kernels were sampled 48 h post-inoculation over three field seasons. Infected B73 kernels consistently contained higher concentrations of the mycotoxin deoxynivalenol than the kernels of the more tolerant inbred CO441. A total of 2067 maize proteins were identified in the iTRAQ analysis of extracted kernel proteins at a 99% confidence level. A subset of 878 proteins was identified in at least two biological replicates and exhibited statistically significantly altered expression between treatments and/or the two inbred lines of which 96 proteins exhibited changes in abundance >1.5-fold in at least one of the treatments. Many proteins associated with the defense response were more abundant after infection, including PR-10 (PR, pathogenesis-related), chitinases, xylanase inhibitors, proteinase inhibitors, and a class III peroxidase. Kernels of the tolerant inbred CO441 contained higher levels of these defense-related proteins than B73 kernels even after mock treatment, suggesting that these proteins may provide a basal defense against Fusarium infection in CO441.