Broadly Conserved Fungal Effector BEC1019 Suppresses Host Cell Death and Enhances Pathogen Virulence in Powdery Mildew of Barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) — Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions

Ehren Whigham, Shan Qi, Divya Mistry, Priyanka Surana, Ruo Xu, Gregory Fuerst, Clara Pliego, Laurence V. Bindschedler, Pietro D. Spanu, Julie A. Dickerson, Roger W. Innes, Dan Nettleton, Adam J. Bogdanove, and Roger P. Wise - Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions 2015 28:9, 968-983

The interaction of barley, Hordeum vulgare L., with the powdery mildew fungus Blumeria graminis f. sp. hordei is a well-developed model to investigate resistance and susceptibility to obligate biotrophic pathogens. The 130-Mb Blumeria genome encodes approximately 540 predicted effectors that are hypothesized to suppress or induce host processes to promote colonization. Blumeria effector candidate (BEC)1019, a single-copy gene encoding a putative, secreted metalloprotease, is expressed in haustorial feeding structures, and host-induced gene silencing of BEC1019 restricts haustorial development in compatible interactions. Here, we show that Barley stripe mosaic virus–induced gene silencing of BEC1019 significantly reduces fungal colonization of barley epidermal cells, demonstrating that BEC1019 plays a central role in virulence. In addition, delivery of BEC1019 to the host cytoplasm via Xanthomonas type III secretion suppresses cultivar nonspecific hypersensitive reaction (HR) induced by Xanthomonas oryzae pv. oryzicola, as well as cultivar-specific HR induced by AvrPphB from Pseudomonas syringae pv. phaseolicola. BEC1019 homologs are present in 96 of 241 sequenced fungal genomes, including plant pathogens, human pathogens, and free-living nonpathogens. Comparative analysis revealed variation at several amino acid positions that correlate with fungal lifestyle and several highly conserved, noncorrelated motifs. Site-directed mutagenesis of one of these, ETVIC, compromises the HR-suppressing activity of BEC1019. We postulate that BEC1019 represents an ancient, broadly important fungal protein family, members of which have evolved to function as effectors in plant and animal hosts.