Transcriptome changes associated with apple (Malus domestica) root defense response after Fusarium proliferatum f. sp. malus domestica infection

BMC Genomics. 2022 Jul 2;23(1):484. doi: 10.1186/s12864-022-08721-3.


Background: Apple replant disease is a soilborne disease caused by Fusarium proliferatum f. sp. malus domestica strain MR5 (abbreviated hereafter as Fpmd MR5) in China. This pathogen causes root tissue rot and wilting leaves in apple seedlings, leading to plant death. A comparative transcriptome analysis was conducted using the Illumina Novaseq platform to identify the molecular defense mechanisms of the susceptible M.26 and the resistant M9T337 apple rootstocks to Fpmd MR5 infection.

Results: Approximately 518.1 million high-quality reads were generated using RNA sequencing (RNA-seq). Comparative analysis between the mock-inoculated and Fpmd MR5 infected apple rootstocks revealed 28,196 significantly differentially expressed genes (DEGs), including 14,572 up-regulated and 13,624 down-regulated genes. Among them, the transcriptomes in the roots of the susceptible genotype M.26 were reflected by overrepresented DEGs. MapMan analysis indicated that a large number of DEGs were involved in the response of apple plants to Fpmd MR5 stress. The important functional groups identified via gene ontology (GO) and the Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG) enrichment were responsible for fundamental biological regulation, secondary metabolism, plant-pathogen recognition, and plant hormone signal transduction (ethylene and jasmonate). Furthermore, the expression of 33 up-regulated candidate genes (12 related to WRKY DNA-binding proteins, one encoding endochitinase, two encoding beta-glucosidases, ten related to pathogenesis-related proteins, and eight encoding ethylene-responsive transcription factors) were validated by quantitative real-time PCR.

Conclusion: RNA-seq profiling was performed for the first time to analyze response of apple root to Fpmd MR5 infection. We found that the production of antimicrobial compounds and antioxidants enhanced plant resistance to pathogens, and pathogenesis-related protein (PR10 homologs, chitinase, and beta-glucosidase) may play unique roles in the defense response. These results provide new insights into the mechanisms of the apple root response to Fpmd MR5 infection.

Keywords: Apple replant disease; Fusarium proliferatum f. sp. malus domestica; Root defense response; Secondary metabolism; Transcriptome analysis.

MeSH terms

  • Ethylenes
  • Fusarium
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant
  • Malus* / genetics
  • Plant Diseases / genetics
  • Transcriptome


  • Ethylenes

Supplementary concepts

  • Fusarium proliferatum