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PLOS ONE  2013 

Analysis of Whitefly Transcriptional Responses to Beauveria bassiana Infection Reveals New Insights into Insect-Fungus Interactions

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0068185

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Abstract:

Background The fungal pathogen, Beauveria bassiana, is an efficient biocontrol agent against a variety of agricultural pests. A thorough understanding of the basic principles of insect-fungus interactions may enable the genetic modification of Beauveria bassiana to enhance its virulence. However, the molecular mechanism of insect response to Beauveria bassiana infection is poorly understood, let alone the identification of fungal virulent factors involved in pathogenesis. Methodology/Principal Findings Here, next generation sequencing technology was applied to examine the expression of whitefly (Bemisia tabaci) genes in response to the infection of Beauveria bassiana. Results showed that, compared to control, 654 and 1,681genes were differentially expressed at 48 hours and 72 hours post-infected whiteflies, respectively. Functional and enrichment analyses indicated that the DNA damage stimulus response and drug metabolism were important anti-fungi strategies of the whitefly. Mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway was also likely involved in the whitefly defense responses. Furthermore, the notable suppression of general metabolism and ion transport genes observed in 72 hours post-infected B. tabaci might be manipulated by fungal secreted effectors. By mapping the sequencing tags to B. bassiana genome, we also identified a number of differentially expressed fungal genes between the early and late infection stages. These genes are generally associated with fungal cell wall synthesis and energy metabolism. The expression of fungal cell wall protein genes might play an important role in fungal pathogenesis and the dramatically up-regulated enzymes of carbon metabolism indicate the increasing usage of energy during the fungal infection. Conclusions/Significance To our knowledge, this is the first report on the molecular mechanism of fungus-whitefly interactions. Our results provide a road map for future investigations on insect-pathogen interactions and genetically modifying the fungus to enhance its efficiency in whitefly control.

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