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Quantitative interactions: the disease outcome of Botrytis cinerea across the plant kingdom

Celine Caseys, Gongjun Shi, Nicole Soltis, Raoni Gwinner, Jason Corwin, Susanna Atwell,
G3 Genes|Genomes|Genetics ; doi:10.1093/g3journal/jkab175

Abstract: Botrytis cinerea is a fungal pathogen that causes necrotic disease on more than a thousand known hosts widely spread across the plant kingdom. How B. cinerea interacts with such extensive host diversity remains largely unknown. To address this question, we generated an infectivity matrix of 98 strains of B. cinerea on 90 genotypes representing eight host plants. This experimental infectivity matrix revealed that the disease outcome is largely explained by variations in either the host resistance or pathogen virulence. However, the specific interactions between host and pathogen account for 16% of the disease outcome. Furthermore, the disease outcomes cluster among genotypes of a species but are independent of the relatedness between hosts. When analyzing the host specificity and virulence of B. cinerea, generalist strains are predominant. In this fungal necrotroph, specialization may happen by a loss in virulence on most hosts rather than an increase of virulence on a specific host. To uncover the genetic architecture of Botrytis host specificity and virulence, a genome-wide association study (GWAS) was performed and revealed up to 1492 genes of interest. The genetic architecture of these traits is widespread across B. cinerea genome. The complexity of the disease outcome might be explained by hundreds of functionally diverse genes putatively involved in adjusting the infection to diverse hosts.
Keywords: plant-pathogen interactions / Botrytis cinerea / fungus / host specificity / generalist pathogen / polygenic virulence / plant domestication

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