Functional Genomic Analysis of Aspergillus flavus Interacting with Resistant and Susceptible Peanut.
ABSTRACT: In the Aspergillus flavus (A. flavus)-peanut pathosystem, development and metabolism of the fungus directly influence aflatoxin contamination. To comprehensively understand the molecular mechanism of A. flavus interaction with peanut, RNA-seq was used for global transcriptome profiling of A. flavus during interaction with resistant and susceptible peanut genotypes. In total, 67.46 Gb of high-quality bases were generated for A. flavus-resistant (af_R) and -susceptible peanut (af_S) at one (T1), three (T2) and seven (T3) days post-inoculation. The uniquely mapped reads to A. flavus reference genome in the libraries of af_R and af_S at T2 and T3 were subjected to further analysis, with more than 72% of all obtained genes expressed in the eight libraries. Comparison of expression levels both af_R vs. af_S and T2 vs. T3 uncovered 1926 differentially expressed genes (DEGs). DEGs associated with mycelial growth, conidial development and aflatoxin biosynthesis were up-regulated in af_S compared with af_R, implying that A. flavus mycelia more easily penetrate and produce much more aflatoxin in susceptible than in resistant peanut. Our results serve as a foundation for understanding the molecular mechanisms of aflatoxin production differences between A. flavus-R and -S peanut, and offer new clues to manage aflatoxin contamination in crops.
Project description:Aflatoxin contamination caused by Aspergillus flavus in peanut (Arachis hypogaea) including in pre- and post-harvest stages seriously affects industry development and human health. Even though resistance to aflatoxin production in post-harvest peanut has been identified, its molecular mechanism has been poorly understood. To understand the mechanism of peanut response to aflatoxin production by A. flavus, RNA-seq was used for global transcriptome profiling of post-harvest seed of resistant (Zhonghua 6) and susceptible (Zhonghua 12) peanut genotypes under the fungus infection and aflatoxin production stress.A total of 128.72 Gb of high-quality bases were generated and assembled into 128, 725 unigenes (average length 765 bp). About 62, 352 unigenes (48.43%) were annotated in the NCBI non-redundant protein sequences, NCBI non-redundant nucleotide sequences, Swiss-Prot, KEGG Ortholog, Protein family, Gene Ontology, or eukaryotic Ortholog Groups database and more than 93% of the unigenes were expressed in the samples. Among obtained 30, 143 differentially expressed unigenes (DEGs), 842 potential defense-related genes, including nucleotide binding site-leucine-rich repeat proteins, polygalacturonase inhibitor proteins, leucine-rich repeat receptor-like kinases, mitogen-activated protein kinase, transcription factors, ADP-ribosylation factors, pathogenesis-related proteins and crucial factors of other defense-related pathways, might contribute to peanut response to aflatoxin production. Notably, DEGs involved in phenylpropanoid-derived compounds biosynthetic pathway were induced to higher levels in the resistant genotype than in the susceptible one. Flavonoid, stilbenoid and phenylpropanoid biosynthesis pathways were enriched only in the resistant genotype.This study provided the first comprehensive analysis of transcriptome of post-harvest peanut seeds in response to aflatoxin production, and would contribute to better understanding of molecular interaction between peanut and A. flavus. The data generated in this study would be a valuable resource for genetic and genomic studies on crops resistance to aflatoxin contamination.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Pre-harvest infection of peanuts by Aspergillus flavus and subsequent aflatoxin contamination is one of the food safety factors that most severely impair peanut productivity and human and animal health, especially in arid and semi-arid tropical areas. Some peanut cultivars with natural pre-harvest resistance to aflatoxin contamination have been identified through field screening. However, little is known about the resistance mechanism, which has slowed the incorporation of resistance into cultivars with commercially acceptable genetic background. Therefore, it is necessary to identify resistance-associated proteins, and then to recognize candidate resistance genes potentially underlying the resistance mechanism. RESULTS: The objective of this study was to identify resistance-associated proteins in response to A. flavus infection under drought stress using two-dimensional electrophoresis with mass spectrometry. To identify proteins involved in the resistance to pre-harvest aflatoxin contamination, we compared the differential expression profiles of seed proteins between a resistant cultivar (YJ-1) and a susceptible cultivar (Yueyou 7) under well-watered condition, drought stress, and A. flavus infection with drought stress. A total of 29 spots showed differential expression between resistant and susceptible cultivars in response to A. flavus attack under drought stress. Among these spots, 12 protein spots that consistently exhibited an altered expression were screened by Image Master 5.0 software and successfully identified by MALDI-TOF MS. Five protein spots, including Oso7g0179400, PII protein, CDK1, Oxalate oxidase, SAP domain-containing protein, were uniquely expressed in the resistant cultivar. Six protein spots including low molecular weight heat shock protein precursor, RIO kinase, L-ascorbate peroxidase, iso-Ara h3, 50 S ribosomal protein L22 and putative 30 S ribosomal S9 were significantly up-regulated in the resistant cultivar challenged by A. flavus under drought stress. A significant decrease or down regulation of trypsin inhibitor caused by A. flavus in the resistant cultivar was also observed. In addition, variations in protein expression patterns for resistant and susceptible cultivars were further validated by real time RT-PCR analysis. CONCLUSION: In summary, this study provides new insights into understanding of the molecular mechanism of resistance to pre-harvest aflatoxin contamination in peanut, and will help to develop peanut varieties with resistance to pre-harvested aflatoxin contamination.
Project description:Pseudomonas fluorescens strain 3JW1, which has a broad-spectrum antimicrobial activity, was studied to investigate whether it affects the amounts of aflatoxin B1 (AFB1) produced by Aspergillus flavus. It was found that the bacterium reduced the amounts of AFB1 in potato dextrose broth (PDB) and peanut medium by 97.8% and 99.4%, respectively. It also reduced AFB1 by ~183 μg/kg (55.8%) when applied onto peanut kernels. This strain reduced AFB1 via three mechanisms. First, it significantly inhibited A. flavus growth; second, our data showed that strain 3JW1 inhibits aflatoxin biosynthesis by A. flavus; and third, P. fluorescens strain 3JW1 is capable of degrading AFB1 at a rate as high as 88.3% in 96 hours. This is the first report demonstrating that Pseudomonas fluorescens can reduce toxin contamination caused by A. flavus on peanut kernels. Our findings indicate that P. fluorescens strain 3JW1 had multiple effects including reducing A. flavus infection and aflatoxin contamination. And the results also highlight the potential applications of the strain 3JW1 for the biological control of aflatoxin contamination in peanuts and other susceptible crops.
Project description:Aflatoxin contamination in peanuts poses major challenges for vulnerable populations of sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Developing peanut varieties to combat preharvest Aspergillus flavus infection and resulting aflatoxin contamination has thus far remained a major challenge, confounded by highly complex peanut-Aspergilli pathosystem. Our study reports achieving a high level of resistance in peanut by overexpressing (OE) antifungal plant defensins MsDef1 and MtDef4.2, and through host-induced gene silencing (HIGS) of aflM and aflP genes from the aflatoxin biosynthetic pathway. While the former improves genetic resistance to A. flavus infection, the latter inhibits aflatoxin production in the event of infection providing durable resistance against different Aspergillus flavus morphotypes and negligible aflatoxin content in several peanut events/lines well. A strong positive correlation was observed between aflatoxin accumulation and decline in transcription of the aflatoxin biosynthetic pathway genes in both OE-Def and HIGS lines. Transcriptomic signatures in the resistant lines revealed key mechanisms such as regulation of aflatoxin synthesis, its packaging and export control, besides the role of reactive oxygen species-scavenging enzymes that render enhanced protection in the OE and HIGS lines. This is the first study to demonstrate highly effective biotechnological strategies for successfully generating peanuts that are near-immune to aflatoxin contamination, offering a panacea for serious food safety, health and trade issues in the semi-arid regions.
Project description:Aspergillus flavus and A. parasiticus infect peanut seeds and produce aflatoxins, which are associated with various diseases in domestic animals and humans throughout the world. The most cost-effective strategy to minimize aflatoxin contamination involves the development of peanut cultivars that are resistant to fungal infection and/or aflatoxin production. To identify peanut Aspergillus-interactive and peanut Aspergillus-resistance genes, we carried out a large scale peanut Expressed Sequence Tag (EST) project which we used to construct a peanut glass slide oligonucleotide microarray. The fabricated microarray represents over 40% of the protein coding genes in the peanut genome. For expression profiling, resistant and susceptible peanut cultivars were infected with a mixture of Aspergillusflavus and parasiticus spores. The subsequent microarray analysis identified 62 genes in resistant cultivars that were up-expressed in response to Aspergillus infection. In addition, we identified 22 putative Aspergillus-resistance genes that were constitutively up-expressed in the resistant cultivar in comparison to the susceptible cultivar. Some of these genes were homologous to peanut, corn, and soybean genes that were previously shown to confer resistance to fungal infection. This study is a first step towards a comprehensive genome-scale platform for developing Aspergillus-resistant peanut cultivars through targeted marker-assisted breeding and genetic engineering.
Project description:BACKGROUND:MicroRNAs are important gene expression regulators in plants immune system. Aspergillus flavus is the most common causal agents of aflatoxin contamination in peanuts, but information on the function of miRNA in peanut-A. flavus interaction is lacking. In this study, the resistant cultivar (GT-C20) and susceptible cultivar (Tifrunner) were used to investigate regulatory roles of miRNAs in response to A. flavus growth. RESULTS:A total of 30 miRNAs, 447 genes and 21 potential miRNA/mRNA pairs were differentially expressed significantly when treated with A. flavus. A total of 62 miRNAs, 451 genes and 44 potential miRNA/mRNA pairs exhibited differential expression profiles between two peanut varieties. Gene Ontology (GO) analysis showed that metabolic-process related GO terms were enriched. Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG) pathway analyses further supported the GO results, in which many enriched pathways were related with biosynthesis and metabolism, such as biosynthesis of secondary metabolites and metabolic pathways. Correlation analysis of small RNA, transcriptome and degradome indicated that miR156/SPL pairs might regulate the accumulation of flavonoids in resistant and susceptible genotypes. The miR482/2118 family might regulate NBS-LRR gene which had the higher expression level in resistant genotype. These results provided useful information for further understanding the roles of miR156/157/SPL and miR482/2118/NBS-LRR pairs. CONCLUSIONS:Integration analysis of the transcriptome, miRNAome and degradome of resistant and susceptible peanut varieties were performed in this study. The knowledge gained will help to understand the roles of miRNAs of peanut in response to A. flavus.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Aflatoxin contamination caused by Aspergillus flavus is a major constraint to peanut industry worldwide due to its toxicological effects to human and animals. Developing peanut varieties with resistance to seed infection and/or aflatoxin accumulation is the most effective and economic strategy for reducing aflatoxin risk in food chain. Breeding for resistance to aflatoxin in peanut is a challenging task for breeders because the genetic basis is still poorly understood. To identify the quantitative trait loci (QTLs) for resistance to aflatoxin contamination in peanut, a recombinant inbred line (RIL) population was developed from crossing Zhonghua 10 (susceptible) with ICG 12625 (resistant). The percent seed infection index (PSII), the contents of aflatoxin B1 (AFB1) and aflatoxin B2 (AFB2) of RILs were evaluated by a laboratory kernel inoculation assay. RESULTS:Two QTLs were identified for PSII including one major QTL with 11.32-13.00% phenotypic variance explained (PVE). A total of 12 QTLs for aflatoxin accumulation were detected by unconditional analysis, and four of them (qAFB1A07 and qAFB1B06.1 for AFB1, qAFB2A07 and qAFB2B06 for AFB2) exhibited major and stable effects across multiple environments with 9.32-21.02% PVE. Furthermore, not only qAFB1A07 and qAFB2A07 were co-localized in the same genetic interval on LG A07, but qAFB1B06.1 was also co-localized with qAFB2B06 on LG B06. Conditional QTL mapping also confirmed that there was a strong interaction between resistance to AFB1 and AFB2 accumulation. Genotyping of RILs revealed that qAFB1A07 and qAFB1B06.1 interacted additively to improve the resistance to both AFB1 and AFB2 accumulation. Additionally, validation of the two markers was performed in diversified germplasm collection and four accessions with resistance to aflatoxin accumulation were identified. CONCLUSIONS:Single major QTL for resistance to PSII and two important co-localized intervals associated with major QTLs for resistance to AFB1 and AFB2. Combination of these intervals could improve the resistance to aflatoxin accumulation in peanut. SSR markers linked to these intervals were identified and validated. The identified QTLs and associated markers exhibit potential to be applied in improvement of resistance to aflatoxin contamination.
Project description:Aflatoxin contamination, caused by fungal pathogen Aspergillus flavus, is a major quality and health problem delimiting the trade and consumption of groundnut (Arachis hypogaea L.) worldwide. RNA-seq approach was deployed to understand the host-pathogen interaction by identifying differentially expressed genes (DEGs) for resistance to in-vitro seed colonization (IVSC) at four critical stages after inoculation in J 11 (resistant) and JL 24 (susceptible) genotypes of groundnut. About 1,344.04 million sequencing reads have been generated from sixteen libraries representing four stages in control and infected conditions. About 64% and 67% of quality filtered reads (1,148.09 million) were mapped onto A (A. duranensis) and B (A. ipa?nsis) subgenomes of groundnut respectively. About 101 million unaligned reads each from J 11 and JL 24 were used to map onto A. flavus genome. As a result, 4,445 DEGs including defense-related genes like senescence-associated proteins, resveratrol synthase, 9s-lipoxygenase, pathogenesis-related proteins were identified. In A. flavus, about 578 DEGs coding for growth and development of fungus, aflatoxin biosynthesis, binding, transport, and signaling were identified in compatible interaction. Besides identifying candidate genes for IVSC resistance in groundnut, the study identified the genes involved in host-pathogen cross-talks and markers that can be used in breeding resistant varieties.
Project description:Maize (Zea mays L.) is one of the major crops susceptible to Aspergillus flavus infection and subsequent contamination with aflatoxins, the most potent naturally produced carcinogenic secondary metabolites. This pathogen can pose serious health concerns and cause severe economic losses due to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations on permissible levels of aflatoxins in food and feed. Although biocontrol has yielded some successes in managing aflatoxin contamination, enhancing crop resistance is still the preferred choice of management for long-term sustainability. Hence, host induced gene silencing (HIGS) strategy was explored in this study. The A. flavus gene aflM encoding versicolorin dehydrogenase, a key enzyme involved in the aflatoxin biosynthetic pathway, was selected as a possible target for suppression through HIGS. An RNAi vector containing a portion of the aflM gene was constructed and introduced into immature B104 maize zygotic embryos through Agrobacterium transformation. PCR analysis of the genomic DNA from T0 leaf tissue confirmed the presence of the transgene in six out of the seven events. The seeds from the lines that showed reduced aflatoxin production in laboratory aflatoxin kernel screening assay (KSA) have been increased from T1 to T4 generation in the past four years. Changes in aflatoxin resistance in these transgenic kernels have been evaluated under both field and laboratory conditions. The T2 generation kernels containing the transgene from two events out of four examined had less aflatoxin (P ? 0.01 and P ? 0.08) than those without the transgene. Field-inoculated homozygous T3 and T4 transgenic kernels also revealed lower levels of aflatoxins (P ? 0.04) than kernels from the null (segregated non-transgenic samples) or B104 controls. A similar result was observed when the harvested T3 and T4 homozygous transgenic kernels were evaluated under KSA conditions without inoculation (P ? 0.003-0.05). These two events were crossed with LH195, LH197, LH210, and PHW79 elite breeding lines and the resulting crosses supported less aflatoxin (P ? 0.02) than the crosses made with non-transgenic lines. In addition, significantly higher levels of aflM gene-specific small RNAs were detected in the transgenic leaf and kernel tissues, indicating that the enhanced aflatoxin resistance in the homozygous transgenic kernels is likely due to suppression of aflM expression through HIGS.
Project description:Aflatoxin contamination is a major economic and food safety concern for the peanut industry that largely could be mitigated by genetic resistance. To screen peanut for aflatoxin resistance, ten genotypes were infected with a green fluorescent protein (GFP)-expressing Aspergillus flavus strain. Percentages of fungal infected area and fungal GFP signal intensity were documented by visual ratings every 8 h for 72 h after inoculation. Significant genotypic differences in fungal growth rates were documented by repeated measures and area under the disease progress curve (AUDPC) analyses. SICIA (Seed Infection Coverage and Intensity Analyzer), an image processing software, was developed to digitize fungal GFP signals. Data from SICIA image analysis confirmed visual rating results validating its utility for quantifying fungal growth. Among the tested peanut genotypes, NC 3033 and GT-C20 supported the lowest and highest fungal growth on the surface of peanut seeds, respectively. Although differential fungal growth was observed on the surface of peanut seeds, total fungal growth in the seeds was not significantly different across genotypes based on a fluorometric GFP assay. Significant differences in aflatoxin B levels were detected across peanut genotypes. ICG 1471 had the lowest aflatoxin level whereas Florida-07 had the highest. Two-year aflatoxin tests under simulated late-season drought also showed that ICG 1471 had reduced aflatoxin production under pre-harvest field conditions. These results suggest that all peanut genotypes support A. flavus fungal growth yet differentially influence aflatoxin production.