Pathogen resistance in Sphagneticola trilobata (Singapore daisy): molecular associations and differentially expressed genes in response to disease from a widespread fungus.
Understanding the molecular associations underlying pathogen resistance in invasive plant species is likely to provide useful insights into the effective control of alien plants, thereby facilitating the conservation of native biodiversity. In the current study, we investigated pathogen resistance in an invasive clonal plant, Sphagneticola trilobata, at the molecular level. Sphagneticola trilobata (i.e., Singapore daisy) is a noxious weed that affects both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, and is less affected by pathogens in the wild than co-occurring native species. We used Illumina sequencing to investigate the transcriptome of S. trilobata following infection by a globally distributed generalist pathogen (Rhizoctonia solani). RNA was extracted from leaves of inoculated and un-inoculated control plants, and a draft transcriptome of S. trilobata was generated to examine the molecular response of this species following infection. We obtained a total of 49,961,014 (94.3%) clean reads for control (un-inoculated plants) and 54,182,844 (94.5%) for the infected treatment (inoculated with R. solani). Our analyses facilitated the discovery of 117,768 de novo assembled contigs and 78,916 unigenes. Of these, we identified 3506 differentially expressed genes and 60 hormones associated with pathogen resistance. Numerous genes, including candidate genes, were associated with plant-pathogen interactions and stress response in S. trilobata. Many recognitions, signaling, and defense genes were differentially regulated between treatments, which were confirmed by qRT-PCR. Overall, our findings improve our understanding of the genes and molecular associations involved in plant defense of a rapidly spreading invasive clonal weed, and serve as a valuable resource for further work on mechanism of disease resistance and managing invasive plants.