Gene regulation of Sclerotinia sclerotiorum during infection of Glycine max: On the road to pathogenesis

Nathaniel M. Westrick, Ashish Ranjan, Sachin Jain, Craig R. Grau, Damon L. Smith, Mehdi Kabbage

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Background: Sclerotinia sclerotiorum is a broad-host range necrotrophic pathogen which is the causative agent of Sclerotinia stem rot (SSR), and a major disease of soybean (Glycine max). A time course transcriptomic analysis was performed in both compatible and incompatible soybean lines to identify pathogenicity and developmental factors utilized by S. sclerotiorum to achieve pathogenic success. Results: A comparison of genes expressed during early infection identified the potential importance of toxin efflux and nitrogen metabolism during the early stages of disease establishment. The later stages of infection were characterized by an apparent shift to survival structure formation. Analysis of genes highly upregulated in-planta revealed a temporal regulation of hydrolytic and detoxification enzymes, putative secreted effectors, and secondary metabolite synthesis genes. Redox regulation also appears to play a key role during the course of infection, as suggested by the high expression of genes involved in reactive oxygen species production and scavenging. Finally, distinct differences in early gene expression were noted based on the comparison of S. sclerotiorum infection of resistant and susceptible soybean lines. Conclusions: Although many potential virulence factors have been noted in the S. sclerotiorum pathosystem, this study serves to highlight soybean specific processes most likely to be critical in successful infection. Functional studies of genes identified in this work are needed to confirm their importance to disease development, and may constitute valuable targets of RNAi approaches to improve resistance to SSR.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number157
JournalBMC Genomics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 26 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Wisconsin Soybean Marketing Board, the North Central Research Program, and the USDA-National Sclerotinia Initiative. Funds were utilized in the generation and analysis of data, as well as supporting the writing of the manuscript. None of the funding bodies played any part in the collection, analysis, or interpretation of the data or in the writing of the manuscript.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 The Author(s).


  • Effectors
  • Glycine max
  • Hydrolytic enzymes
  • Oxalic acid
  • Reactive oxygen species
  • Resistance
  • Sclerotinia sclerotiorum
  • Sclerotinia stem rot
  • Transcriptomics
  • White Mold


Dive into the research topics of 'Gene regulation of Sclerotinia sclerotiorum during infection of Glycine max: On the road to pathogenesis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this