Open Access Research article

Deep mRNA sequencing reveals stage-specific transcriptome alterations during microsclerotia development in the smoke tree vascular wilt pathogen, Verticillium dahliae

Dianguang Xiong1, Yonglin Wang1, Jie Ma2, Steven J Klosterman3, Shuxiao Xiao1 and Chengming Tian1*

Author Affiliations

1 The Key Laboratory for Silviculture and Conservation of Ministry of Education, College of Forestry, Beijing Forestry University, Beijing, China

2 School of Information Science and Technology, Beijing Forestry University, Beijing, China

3 United States Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service, Salinas, CA, USA

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BMC Genomics 2014, 15:324  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-15-324

Published: 1 May 2014



Verticillium dahliae is a soil-borne fungus that causes vascular wilt diseases in a wide range of plant hosts. V. dahliae produces multicelled, melanized resting bodies, also known as microsclerotia (MS) that can survive for years in the soil. The MS are the primary source of infection of the Verticillium disease cycle. Thus, MS formation marks an important event in the disease cycle of V. dahliae.


In this study, next generation sequencing technology of RNA-Seq was employed to investigate the global transcriptomic dynamics of MS development to identify differential gene expression at several stages of MS formation in strain XS11 of V. dahliae, isolated from smoke tree. We observed large-scale changes in gene expression during MS formation, such as increased expression of genes involved in protein metabolism and carbohydrate metabolism. Genes involved in glycolytic pathway and melanin biosynthesis were dramatically up-regulated in MS. Cluster analyses revealed increased expression of genes encoding products involved in primary metabolism and stress responses throughout MS development. Differential expression of ubiquitin-dependent protein catabolism and cell death-associated genes during MS development were revealed. Homologs of genes located in the lineage-specific (LS) regions of V. dahliae strain VdLs.17, were either not expressed or showed low expression. Furthermore, alternative splicing (AS) events were analyzed, revealing that over 95.0% AS events involve retention of introns (RI).


These data reveal the dynamics of transcriptional regulation during MS formation and were used to construct a comprehensive high-resolution gene expression map. This map provides a key resource for understanding the biology and molecular basis of MS development of V. dahliae.

Verticillium dahliae; Microsclerotia development; RNA-Seq; Transcriptome; Gene expression; Alternative splicing