A functional genomics approach to dissect the mode of action of the Stagonospora nodorum effector protein SnToxA in wheat


: Email: peter.solomon@anu.edu.au


In this study, proteomics and metabolomics were used to study the wheat response to exposure to the SnToxA effector protein secreted by the fungal pathogen Stagonospora nodorum during infection. Ninety-one different acidic and basic proteins and 101 metabolites were differentially abundant when comparing SnToxA- and control-treated wheat leaves during a 72-h time course. Proteins involved in photosynthesis were observed to increase marginally initially after exposure, before decreasing rapidly and significantly. Proteins and metabolites associated with the detoxification of reactive oxygen species in the chloroplast were also differentially abundant during SnToxA exposure, implying that the disruption of photosynthesis causes the rapid accumulation of chloroplastic reactive oxygen species. Metabolite profiling revealed major metabolic perturbations in central carbon metabolism, evidenced by significant increases in tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle intermediates, suggestive of an attempt by the plant to generate ATP and reducing equivalents in response to the collapse of photosynthesis caused by SnToxA. This was supported by the observation that the TCA cycle enzyme malate dehydrogenase was up-regulated in response to SnToxA. The infiltration of SnToxA also resulted in a significant increase in abundance of many pathogenicity-related proteins, even in the absence of the pathogen or other pathogen-associated molecular patterns. This approach highlights the complementary nature of proteomics and metabolomics in studying effector–host interactions, and provides further support for the hypothesis that necrotrophic pathogens, such as S. nodorum, appear to exploit existing host cell death mechanisms to promote pathogen growth and cause disease.