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Research article2022Peer reviewedOpen access

Comparative Small RNA and Degradome Sequencing Provides Insights into Antagonistic Interactions in the Biocontrol Fungus Clonostachys rosea

Piombo, Edoardo; Vetukuri, Ramesh Raju; Sundararajan, Poorva; Kushwaha, Sandeep; Funck Jensen, Dan; Karlsson, Magnus; Dubey, Mukesh

Abstract

Necrotrophic mycoparasitism is an intricate process involving recognition, physical mycelial contact, and killing of host fungi (mycohosts). During such interactions, mycoparasites undergo a complex developmental process involving massive regulatory changes of gene expression to produce a range of chemical compounds and proteins that contribute to the parasitism of the mycohosts. Small RNAs (sRNAs) are vital components of posttranscriptional gene regulation, although their role in gene expression regulation during mycoparasitisms remain understudied. Here, we investigated the role of sRNA-mediated gene regulation in mycoparasitism by performing sRNA and degradome tag sequencing of the mycoparasitic fungus Clonostachys rosea interacting with the plant-pathogenic mycohosts Botrytis cinerea and Fusarium graminearum at two time points. The majority of differentially expressed sRNAs were downregulated during the interactions with the mycohosts compared to a C. rosea self-interaction control, thus allowing desuppression (upregulation) of mycohost-responsive genes. Degradome analysis showed a positive correlation between high degradome counts and antisense sRNA mapping and led to the identification of 201 sRNA-mediated potential gene targets for 282 differentially expressed sRNAs. Analysis of sRNA potential gene targets revealed that the regulation of genes coding for membrane proteins was a common response against both mycohosts. The regulation of genes involved in oxidative stress tolerance and cellular metabolic and biosynthetic processes was exclusive against F. graminearum, highlighting common and mycohost-specific gene regulation of C. rosea. By combining these results with transcriptome data collected during a previous study, we expand the understanding of the role of sRNA in regulating interspecific fungal interactions and mycoparasitism. IMPORTANCE Small RNAs (sRNAs) are emerging as key players in pathogenic and mutualistic fungus-plant interactions; however, their role in fungus-fungus interactions remains elusive. In this study, we employed the necrotrophic mycoparasite Clonostachys rosea and the plant-pathogenic mycohosts Botrytis cinerea and Fusarium graminearum and investigated the sRNA-mediated gene regulation in mycoparasitic interactions. The combined approach of sRNA and degradome tag sequencing identified 201 sRNA-mediated putative gene targets for 282 differentially expressed sRNAs, highlighting the role of sRNA-mediated regulation of mycoparasitism in C. rosea. We also identified 36 known and 13 novel microRNAs (miRNAs) and their potential gene targets at the endogenous level and at a cross-species level in B. cinerea and F. graminearum, indicating a role of cross-species RNA interference (RNAi) in mycoparasitism, representing a novel mechanism in biocontrol interactions. Furthermore, we showed that C. rosea adapts its transcriptional response, and thereby its interaction mechanisms, based on the interaction stages and identity of the mycohost.Small RNAs (sRNAs) are emerging as key players in pathogenic and mutualistic fungus-plant interactions; however, their role in fungus-fungus interactions remains elusive. In this study, we employed the necrotrophic mycoparasite Clonostachys rosea and the plant-pathogenic mycohosts Botrytis cinerea and Fusarium graminearum and investigated the sRNA-mediated gene regulation in mycoparasitic interactions.

Keywords

antagonism; biocontrol; Clonostachys rosea; degradome; fungus-fungus interaction; gene regulation; mycoparasitism; posttranscriptional gene silencing; RNA interference; small-RNAs

Published in

Applied and Environmental Microbiology
2022, Volume: 88, number: 13Publisher: AMER SOC MICROBIOLOGY