Plants (Basel) 10 (10) - [2021-10-18; online 2021-10-18]
Potato early blight is caused by the necrotrophic fungus Alternaria solani and can result in yield losses of up to 50% if left uncontrolled. At present, the disease is controlled by chemical fungicides, yet rapid development of fungicide resistance renders current control strategies unsustainable. On top of that, a lack of understanding of potato defences and the quantitative nature of resistance mechanisms against early blight hinders the development of more sustainable control methods. Necrotrophic pathogens, compared to biotrophs, pose an extra challenge to the plant, since common defence strategies to biotic stresses such as the hypersensitive response and programmed cell death are often beneficial for necrotrophs. With the aim of unravelling plant responses to both the early infection stages (i.e., before necrosis), such as appressorium formation and penetration, as well as to later responses to the onset of necrosis, we present here a transcriptome analysis of potato interactions with A. solani from 1 h after inoculation when the conidia have just commenced germination, to 48 h post inoculation when multiple cell necrosis has begun. Potato transcripts with putative functions related to biotic stress tolerance and defence against pathogens were upregulated, including a putative Nudix hydrolase that may play a role in defence against oxidative stress. A. solani transcripts encoding putative pathogenicity factors, such as cell wall degrading enzymes and metabolic processes that may be important for infection. We therefore identified the differential expression of several potato and A. solani transcripts that present a group of valuable candidates for further studies into their roles in immunity or disease development.