Comparative metabolomics implicates threitol as a fungal signal supporting colonization of Armillaria luteobubalina on eucalypt roots.

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Plant, cell & environment, 2020, 43, (2), pp. 374-386
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Armillaria root rot is a fungal disease that affects a wide range of trees and crops around the world. Despite being a widespread disease, little is known about the plant molecular responses towards the pathogenic fungi at the early phase of their interaction. With recent research highlighting the vital roles of metabolites in plant root-microbe interactions, we sought to explore the presymbiotic metabolite responses of Eucalyptus grandis seedlings towards Armillaria luteobuablina, a necrotrophic pathogen native to Australia. Using a metabolite profiling approach, we have identified threitol as one of the key metabolite responses in E. grandis root tips specific to A. luteobubalina that were not induced by three other species of soil-borne microbes of different lifestyle strategies (a mutualist, a commensalist, and a hemi-biotrophic pathogen). Using isotope labelling, threitol detected in the Armillaria-treated root tips was found to be largely derived from the fungal pathogen. Exogenous application of d-threitol promoted microbial colonization of E. grandis and triggered hormonal responses in root cells. Together, our results support a role of threitol as an important metabolite signal during eucalypt-Armillaria interaction prior to infection thus advancing our mechanistic understanding on the earliest stage of Armillaria disease development. Comparative metabolomics of eucalypt roots interacting with a range of fungal lifestyles identified threitol enrichment as a specific characteristic of Armillaria pathogenesis. Our findings suggest that threitol acts as one of the earliest fungal signals promoting Armillaria colonization of roots.
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