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Elucidating potential effectors, pathogenicity and virulence factors expressed by the phytopathogenic fungus Thecaphora frezii through analysis of its transcriptome


Thecaphora frezii is a phytopathogenic fungus belonging to the Ustilaginomycetes class, which causes peanut smut disease. In its biological cycle it has three structures, teliospores (is the resistance structure), basidiospores and hyphae. The mycelium is the structure that penetrates the plant’s gynophore and initiates the infection. For this action, the expression of effectors, pathogenicity and virulence factor proteins is necessary. The aim of this study was to identify potential Thecaphora frezii’s proteins that could exert pathogenicity, virulence and/or effector functions. Based on the transcriptome of two ontogenetic stages (teliospore and hyphae) of Thecaphora frezii, and a series of bioinformatic analyses, 18 potential effectors and 91 factors possibly involved in the level of pathogenicity and virulence were identified. Higher expression levels of candidate effectors were found in the infective stage of the fungus. In the other hand, the major variability observed in pathogenicity and virulence factors expressed between Ustilago maydis and Thecaphora frezii were the number of virulence factors secreted (higher in U. maydis). In the future, when the genome of the fungus will be known, functional studies of these proteins could be carried out to validate their function.

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The present work was supported by grants from Universidad Católica de Córdoba, Fundación Maní Argentino and Centro de Excelencia de Productos y Procesos de Córdoba (CEPROCOR).

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NWS and DMB conceived the project. ACF, MSD, VRA, PY and EHB did experiments. NWS and DMB analyzed data and wrote the manuscript. ACF, MSD, VRA, PY and EHB provided the biological material. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Néstor W. Soria or Dante M. Beltramo.

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Soria, N.W., Badariotti, E.H., Alasino, V.R. et al. Elucidating potential effectors, pathogenicity and virulence factors expressed by the phytopathogenic fungus Thecaphora frezii through analysis of its transcriptome. Eur J Plant Pathol (2022).

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  • Effectors
  • Pathogenicity
  • Virulence
  • Thecaphora frezii
  • Peanut