Sequential delivery of host-induced virulence effectors by appressoria and intracellular hyphae of the phytopathogen Colletotrichum higginsianum

PLoS Pathog. 2012;8(4):e1002643. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1002643. Epub 2012 Apr 5.


Phytopathogens secrete effector proteins to manipulate their hosts for effective colonization. Hemibiotrophic fungi must maintain host viability during initial biotrophic growth and elicit host death for subsequent necrotrophic growth. To identify effectors mediating these opposing processes, we deeply sequenced the transcriptome of Colletotrichum higginsianum infecting Arabidopsis. Most effector genes are host-induced and expressed in consecutive waves associated with pathogenic transitions, indicating distinct effector suites are deployed at each stage. Using fluorescent protein tagging and transmission electron microscopy-immunogold labelling, we found effectors localised to stage-specific compartments at the host-pathogen interface. In particular, we show effectors are focally secreted from appressorial penetration pores before host invasion, revealing new levels of functional complexity for this fungal organ. Furthermore, we demonstrate that antagonistic effectors either induce or suppress plant cell death. Based on these results we conclude that hemibiotrophy in Colletotrichum is orchestrated through the coordinated expression of antagonistic effectors supporting either cell viability or cell death.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Arabidopsis / metabolism
  • Arabidopsis / microbiology*
  • Arabidopsis / ultrastructure
  • Colletotrichum / metabolism*
  • Colletotrichum / pathogenicity*
  • Colletotrichum / ultrastructure
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Fungal / physiology
  • Hyphae / metabolism*
  • Hyphae / pathogenicity*
  • Hyphae / ultrastructure
  • Plant Diseases / microbiology*
  • Transcriptome / physiology
  • Virulence Factors / biosynthesis*


  • Virulence Factors