Comparative analyses of saprotrophy in Salisapilia sapeloensis and diverse plant pathogenic oomycetes reveal lifestyle-specific gene expression

FEMS Microbiol Ecol. 2020 Oct 24;96(11):fiaa184. doi: 10.1093/femsec/fiaa184.


Oomycetes include many devastating plant pathogens. Across oomycete diversity, plant-infecting lineages are interspersed by non-pathogenic ones. Unfortunately, our understanding of the evolution of lifestyle switches is hampered by a scarcity of data on the molecular biology of saprotrophic oomycetes, ecologically important primary colonizers of dead tissue that can serve as informative reference points for understanding the evolution of pathogens. Here, we established Salisapilia sapeloensis as a tractable system for the study of saprotrophic oomycetes. We generated multiple transcriptomes from S. sapeloensis and compared them with (i) 22 oomycete genomes and (ii) the transcriptomes of eight pathogenic oomycetes grown under 13 conditions. We obtained a global perspective on gene expression signatures of oomycete lifestyles. Our data reveal that oomycete saprotrophs and pathogens use similar molecular mechanisms for colonization but exhibit distinct expression patterns. We identify a S. sapeloensis-specific array and expression of carbohydrate-active enzymes and putative regulatory differences, highlighted by distinct expression levels of transcription factors. Salisapilia sapeloensis expresses only a small repertoire of candidates for virulence-associated genes. Our analyses suggest lifestyle-specific gene regulatory signatures and that, in addition to variation in gene content, shifts in gene regulatory networks underpin the evolution of oomycete lifestyles.

PMID:32918444 | PMC:PMC7585586 | DOI:10.1093/femsec/fiaa184