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Open Access Research article

Transcriptomic response of the mycoparasitic fungus Trichoderma atroviride to the presence of a fungal prey

Verena Seidl1, Lifu Song2, Erika Lindquist3, Sabine Gruber1, Alexeji Koptchinskiy1, Susanne Zeilinger1, Monika Schmoll1, Pedro Martínez4, Jibin Sun2, Igor Grigoriev3, Alfredo Herrera-Estrella4, Scott E Baker5 and Christian P Kubicek1*

Author Affiliations

1 Research Area Gene Technology and Applied Biochemistry, Institute of Chemical Engineering, Vienna University of Technology, Getreidemarkt 9/166, A-1060 Vienna, Austria

2 Tianjin Institute of Industrial Biotechnology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, West Seven Road 18, Airport Industrial Park, Tianjin 300308, PR China

3 Joint Genome Institute, US Department of Energy, Walnut Creek, CA USA

4 Laboratorio Nacional de Genómica para la Biodiversidada and Departamento de Ingeniería Genética, Cinvestav Campus Guanajuato, Km 9.6 Libramiento Norte Carretera Irapuato-León, A.P. 629, Irapuato 36500, Guanajuato, Mexico

5 Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, P.O. Box 999, Richland, WA 99352, USA

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BMC Genomics 2009, 10:567  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-10-567

Published: 30 November 2009



Combating the action of plant pathogenic microorganisms by mycoparasitic fungi has been announced as an attractive biological alternative to the use of chemical fungicides since two decades. The fungal genus Trichoderma includes a high number of taxa which are able to recognize, combat and finally besiege and kill their prey. Only fragments of the biochemical processes related to this ability have been uncovered so far, however.


We analyzed genome-wide gene expression changes during the begin of physical contact between Trichoderma atroviride and two plant pathogens Botrytis cinerea and Rhizoctonia solani, and compared with gene expression patterns of mycelial and conidiating cultures, respectively. About 3000 ESTs, representing about 900 genes, were obtained from each of these three growth conditions. 66 genes, represented by 442 ESTs, were specifically and significantly overexpressed during onset of mycoparasitism, and the expression of a subset thereof was verified by expression analysis. The upregulated genes comprised 18 KOG groups, but were most abundant from the groups representing posttranslational processing, and amino acid metabolism, and included components of the stress response, reaction to nitrogen shortage, signal transduction and lipid catabolism. Metabolic network analysis confirmed the upregulation of the genes for amino acid biosynthesis and of those involved in the catabolism of lipids and aminosugars.


The analysis of the genes overexpressed during the onset of mycoparasitism in T. atroviride has revealed that the fungus reacts to this condition with several previously undetected physiological reactions. These data enable a new and more comprehensive interpretation of the physiology of mycoparasitism, and will aid in the selection of traits for improvement of biocontrol strains by recombinant techniques.