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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Secretome analysis reveals effector candidates associated with broad host range necrotrophy in the fungal plant pathogen Sclerotinia sclerotiorum

Koanna Guyon12, Claudine Balagué12, Dominique Roby12 and Sylvain Raffaele12*

Author Affiliations

1 INRA, Laboratoire des Interactions Plantes-Microorganismes (LIPM), UMR441, F-31326, Castanet-Tolosan, France

2 CNRS, Laboratoire des Interactions Plantes-Microorganismes (LIPM), UMR2594, F-31326, Castanet-Tolosan, France

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BMC Genomics 2014, 15:336  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-15-336

Published: 4 May 2014



The white mold fungus Sclerotinia sclerotiorum is a devastating necrotrophic plant pathogen with a remarkably broad host range. The interaction of necrotrophs with their hosts is more complex than initially thought, and still poorly understood.


We combined bioinformatics approaches to determine the repertoire of S. sclerotiorum effector candidates and conducted detailed sequence and expression analyses on selected candidates. We identified 486 S. sclerotiorum secreted protein genes expressed in planta, many of which have no predicted enzymatic activity and may be involved in the interaction between the fungus and its hosts. We focused on those showing (i) protein domains and motifs found in known fungal effectors, (ii) signatures of positive selection, (iii) recent gene duplication, or (iv) being S. sclerotiorum-specific. We identified 78 effector candidates based on these properties. We analyzed the expression pattern of 16 representative effector candidate genes on four host plants and revealed diverse expression patterns.


These results reveal diverse predicted functions and expression patterns in the repertoire of S. sclerotiorum effector candidates. They will facilitate the functional analysis of fungal pathogenicity determinants and should prove useful in the search for plant quantitative disease resistance components active against the white mold.

Sclerotinia sclerotiorum. Effectors; Gene expression; Secretome; Necrotrophic fungal; Pathogen; Arabidopsis thaliana