Solanaceous exocyst subunits are involved in immunity to diverse plant pathogens

Yu Du, Elysa J.R. Overdijk, Jeroen A. Berg, Francine Govers, Klaas Bouwmeester*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


The exocyst, a multiprotein complex consisting of eight subunits, plays an essential role in many biological processes by mediating secretion of post-Golgi-derived vesicles towards the plasma membrane. In recent years, roles for plant exocyst subunits in pathogen defence have been uncovered, largely based on studies in the model plant Arabidopsis. Only a few studies have been undertaken to assign the role of exocyst subunits in plant defence in other plants species, including crops. In this study, predicted protein sequences from exocyst subunits were retrieved by mining databases from the Solanaceous plants Nicotiana benthamiana, tomato, and potato. Subsequently, their evolutionary relationship with Arabidopsis exocyst subunits was analysed. Gene silencing in N. benthamiana showed that several exocyst subunits are required for proper plant defence against the (hemi-)biotrophic plant pathogens Phytophthora infestans and Pseudomonas syringae. In contrast, some exocyst subunits seem to act as susceptibility factors for the necrotrophic pathogen Botrytis cinerea. Furthermore, the majority of the exocyst subunits were found to be involved in callose deposition, suggesting that they play a role in basal plant defence. This study provides insight into the evolution of exocyst subunits in Solanaceous plants and is the first to show their role in immunity against multiple unrelated pathogens.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)655-666
JournalJournal of Experimental Botany
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 23 Jan 2018


  • Basal defence
  • exocyst complex
  • exocytosis
  • gene silencing
  • phylogenetic analysis
  • plant resistance
  • Solanaceous plants
  • vesicle trafficking


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