Communication between plants and interacting microorganisms requires the secretion and uptake of molecules to and from the interacting organisms. We discovered that some small RNAs from eukaryotic pathogens, such as Botrytis cinerea, are delivered into plant cells and hijack host RNAi machinery to suppress host immunity genes (Weiberg et al., Science 2013). We further demonstrated that such cross-kingdom RNAi is bi-directional (Wang et al., Nature Plants 2016). Plants utilize extracellular vesicles, mainly exosomes, to send sRNAs into fungal cells to silence virulence-related genes (Cai et al., Science 2018). Recently, we identified a set of RNA-binding proteins, which enter EVs and contribute to the selective loading and stabilization of small RNAs in the extracellular vesicles (He et al., Nature Plants, 2021). Furthermore, we also discovered that many fungal pathogens can take up RNAs from the environment (Wang et al,, Nature Plants, 2016; Qiao et al., Plant Biotech J. 2021). Applying small RNAs or double-stranded RNAs that target fungal virulence-related genes on plants can inhibit fungal diseases. Such pathogen gene-targeting RNAs represent a new generation of fungicides that are durable and eco-friendly.
Speaker: Hailing Jin
Host: Corlett Wood
University of California Riverside