Large scale expressed sequence tag (EST) analysis of Metarhizium acridum infecting Locusta migratoria reveals multiple strategies for fungal adaptation to the host cuticle
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To infect its insect host, the entomopathogenic fungus Metarhizium acridum has to breach the physical barrier of the host cuticle to gain entry into insect tissue. To identify virulence-associated genes to improve the biocontrol efficacy of M. acridum, it is necessary to understand the genes expressed by M. acridum during its infection of the insect host cuticle. In this study, we performed a large scale gene expression analysis of M. acridum during locust cuticle infection. We report the identification of 4,739 unique expressed sequence tags (ESTs), of which 80 % have not been previously identified. Analysis of the ESTs provided evidence that M. acridum may employ several different adaptation strategies to infect locust cuticle, such as metabolism reprogramming, protein secretion, endocytosis, cell-cycle-regulated morphogenesis and effector-dependent suppression of host immune responses. By searching against the pathogen–host interaction database, several genes associated with different adaptation processes were found to potentially encode important virulence genes. Gene expression pattern analysis by semi-quantitative RT-PCR revealed that M. acridum differentially regulates subsets of genes in response to different infection niches between the host cuticle and hemolymph. The present study provides novel candidate genes to investigate the biology of insect infection by M. acridum.
KeywordsMetarhizium acridum Appressorium Locusta migratoria Expressed sequence tag (EST) Fungal adaptation
The authors wish to thank Prof. Nicholas J Talbot, University of Exeter, for critically reading this manuscript. The work was supported by grants from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 30971913), Specialized Research Fund for the Doctoral Program of Higher Education (No. 20090191110031) and the Chongqing University Postgraduates’ Innovative Team Building Project (No. 200909B1009).
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