We functionally analysed two Nep1-like protein (NLP) genes from Botrytis elliptica (a specialized pathogen of lily), encoding proteins homologous to the necrosis and ethylene-inducing protein (NEP1) from Fusarium oxysporum. Single gene replacement mutants were made for BeNEP1 and BeNEP2, providing the first example of transformation and successful targeted mutagenesis in this fungus. The virulence of both mutants on lily leaves was not affected. BeNEP1 and BeNEP2 were individually expressed in the yeast Pichia pastoris, and the necrosis-inducing activity was tested by infiltration of both proteins into leaves of several monocots and eudicots. Necrotic symptoms developed on the eudicots tobacco, Nicotiana benthamiana and Arabidopsis thaliana, and cell death was induced in tomato cell suspensions. No necrotic symptoms developed on leaves of the monocots rice, maize and lily. These results support the hypothesis that the necrosis-inducing activity of NLPs is limited to eudicots. We conclude that NLPs are not essential virulence factors and they do not function as host-selective toxins for B. elliptica.
- carotovora subsp carotovora