Rhizoctonia solani is a fungal species that belongs to the fungal division Basidiomycota. It is a soil-borne pathogen that attacks a broad range of plant species and crops. Disease symptoms are commonly seen as damping off of seedlings and root rot, although it can infect plants at any developmental stage. Despite the severity of this disease, many aspects in R. solani infection biology remain unclear. Here we investigated the role of a LysM effector, previously predicted from the genome of a R. solani AG2-2IIIB strain that has sugar beet as a host. Gene expression analysis showed that RsLysM was highly induced upon sugar beet infection. When RsLysM was heterologously expressed in Cercospora beticola, necrotic lesion size and fungal colonization ability were increased, indicating a role in virulence. RsLysM displayed chitin-binding affinity and suppression of chitin-triggered immunity but could not protect hyphae from hydrolysis. Overall, this study is the first characterization of a LysM effector from Basidiomycota, suggesting that this necrotrophic fungal species relies on perturbation of chitin-triggered immunity to establish a successful infection.
Keywords: Cercospora beticola; Effectors; Heterologous expression; LysM; Sugar beet.