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Science 328 (5974): 89-92

Copyright © 2010 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science

Maize Tumors Caused by Ustilago maydis Require Organ-Specific Genes in Host and Pathogen

David S. Skibbe,1,* Gunther Doehlemann,2,* John Fernandes,1 Virginia Walbot1,{dagger}

Abstract: Infection of maize by corn smut (Ustilago maydis) provides an agronomically important model of biotrophic host-pathogen interactions. After penetration of the maize epidermis, fungal colonization of host tissue induces tumor formation on all aerial maize organs. We hypothesized that transformation of different primordia into plant tumors would require organ-specific gene expression by both host and pathogen and documented these differences by transcriptome profiling. Phenotypic screening of U. maydis mutants deleted for genes encoding secreted proteins and maize mutants with organ-specific defects confirmed organ-restricted tumorigenesis. This is the foundation for exploring how individual pathogen effectors, deployed in an organ-specific pattern, interact with host factors to reprogram normal ontogeny into a tumor pathway.

1 Department of Biology, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305–5020, USA.
2 Max Planck Institute for Terrestrial Microbiology, D-35043 Marburg, Germany.

* These authors contributed equally to this work.

{dagger} To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: walbot{at}stanford.edu


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