Acceleration of ripening-related host cell wall disassembly during Botrytis cinerea infections of unripe tomato fruit

Barbara Blanco Ulate, D. Cantu, E. Vincenti, J.A.L. van Kan, M. Hahn, J.M. Labavitch, A.L.T. Powell

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


The ripening of tomato fruit is an example of a developmental transition that coincides with increased susceptibility to necrotrophic pathogens, such as Botrytis cinerea. Ripening processes that promote susceptibility include softening-associated disassembly of the fruit host cell wall polysaccharide
networks, modulation of the fruit’s synthesis and perception of plant hormones, accumulation of organic acids and losses of preformed or induced defense responses. As an opportunistic pathogen, B. cinerea modifies its infection strategy to take into account the ripening stage of the host. The diverse and versatile infection mechanisms that B. cinerea deploys on fruit help to define processes that the pathogen may use to hasten fruit susceptibility but also demonstrate that B. cinerea takes advantage of opportune ripening events that render its host vulnerable to aggressive infections. B. cinerea utilizes a large repertoire of enzymes that degrade multiple components of the cell walls of
unripe tomato fruit. However, fruit susceptibility to B. cinerea not only depends on the array of enzymes secreted by the pathogen during infection, but also on modifications that alter the fruit cell wall as part of ripening. We have determined that B. cinerea induces the expression of tomato genes
coding for cell wall degrading proteins that enhance the deconstruction and softening of the fruit tissues. Tomato and B. cinerea genes coding for pectin degrading enzymes are expressed more in infected unripe fruit than in infected ripe fruit. Glycome profiling of cell walls from B. cinerea-infected
and healthy tomato fruit identified changes in the composition and structure of the wall caused by infections that are associated with fungal infections and the normal ripening process. Specific classes of cell wall polysaccharides that are depolymerized by B. cinerea during tomato fruit infections include
the backbones and side-chains of homoglacturonan pectins. We detected significant correlations between the modifications in the fruit cell walls that occurred during B. cinerea infections of unripe fruit and those that occurred as a result of uninfected fruit ripening. Fruit susceptibility assays using B. cinerea knockout mutants of pectin degrading enzymes validated the role of particular enzymes during interactions between tomato fruit and B. cinerea.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Event13th Solanaceae Conference: SolGenomics: From Advances to Applications - Davis, California , United States
Duration: 12 Sep 201616 Sep 2016


Conference13th Solanaceae Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityDavis, California


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