RNAseq-based transcriptome analysis of Lactuca sativa infected by the fungal necrotroph Botrytis cinerea


Correspondence: B. Cammue. Fax: +32 16 3 21966; e-mail: bruno.cammue@biw.kuleuven.be


The fungal pathogen Botrytis cinerea establishes a necrotrophic interaction with its host plants, including lettuce (Lactuca sativa), causing it to wilt, collapse and eventually dry up and die, which results in serious economic losses. Global expression profiling using RNAseq and the newly sequenced lettuce genome identified a complex network of genes involved in the lettuce–B. cinerea interaction. The observed high number of differentially expressed genes allowed us to classify them according to the biological pathways in which they are implicated, generating a holistic picture. Most pronounced were the induction of the phenylpropanoid pathway and terpenoid biosynthesis, whereas photosynthesis was globally down-regulated at 48 h post-inoculation. Large-scale comparison with data available on the interaction of B. cinerea with the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana revealed both general and species-specific responses to infection with this pathogen. Surprisingly, expression analysis of selected genes could not detect significant systemic transcriptional alterations in lettuce leaves distant from the inoculation site. Additionally, we assessed the response of these lettuce genes to a biotrophic pathogen, Bremia lactucae, revealing that similar pathways are induced during compatible interactions of lettuce with necrotrophic and biotrophic pathogens.