Recent Advances in the Study of the Plant Pathogenic Fungus Botrytis cinerea and its Interaction with the Environment

Curr Protein Pept Sci. 2017;18(10):976-989. doi: 10.2174/1389203717666160809160915.


The primary contact between the fungal phytopathogen Botrytis cinerea and its host takes place at the cell surface of both organisms. The fungal cell wall is generally composed of an inner skeletal layer consisting of various polysaccharides surrounded by a layer of glycoproteins. Some of these glycoproteins have structural or enzymatic functions, or are involved in conidial adhesion. After landing on the host surface and sensing appropriate signals, B. cinerea conidia produce a germ tube and secrete phytotoxic fungal metabolites and cell wall-degrading enzymes (CWDEs), facilitating host penetration. In fact, 118 genes encoding putative Carbohydrate-Active Enzymes (CAZymes) have been identified in the B. cinerea genome. This large enzymatic repertoire could explain, at least in part, the ability of B. cinerea to infect a vast number of plant species. In recent years, several genes and signaling factors have been identified as playing key roles in pathogenesis, particularly in appressorium formation and penetration. These include the NOX Complex, MAPK cascades, heterotrimeric G proteins, histidine kinases and cAMP signaling pathways. Some of these pathways could also be responsible for controlling the expression and secretion of CWDEs and/or secondary metabolites during infection. Herein, putative virulence factors that are linked to the cell wall, as well as recentlydescribed genes and components that allow the sensing of environmental cues, are highlighted.

Keywords: Botrytis cinerea; cell wall; cell wall-degrading enzymes; circadian clock; light; virulence factor.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Botrytis / enzymology
  • Botrytis / genetics*
  • Botrytis / pathogenicity
  • Cell Wall / chemistry
  • Cell Wall / microbiology
  • Cyclic AMP / metabolism
  • Fungal Polysaccharides / biosynthesis
  • Fungal Polysaccharides / chemistry
  • Fungal Proteins / genetics*
  • Fungal Proteins / metabolism
  • GTP-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • GTP-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Fungal*
  • Genome, Fungal*
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions*
  • MAP Kinase Signaling System / genetics
  • Plant Cells / microbiology*
  • Plant Diseases / microbiology
  • Plants / microbiology
  • Signal Transduction
  • Virulence Factors / genetics*
  • Virulence Factors / metabolism


  • Fungal Polysaccharides
  • Fungal Proteins
  • Virulence Factors
  • Cyclic AMP
  • GTP-Binding Proteins