Botrytis cinerea BcSSP2 protein is a late infection phase, cytotoxic effector

Wenjun Zhu*, Mengxue Yu, Ran Xu, Kai Bi, Shuang Yu, Chao Xiong, Zhiguo Liu, Amir Sharon, Daohong Jiang, Mingde Wu, Qiongnan Gu, Ling Gong, Weidong Chen, Wei Wei

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Botrytis cinerea is a broad-host-range necrotrophic phytopathogen responsible for serious diseases in leading crops. To facilitate infection, B. cinerea secretes a large number of effectors that induce plant cell death. In screening secretome data of B. cinerea during infection stage, we identified a phytotoxic protein (BcSSP2) that can also induce immune resistance in plants. BcSSP2 is a small, cysteine-rich protein without any known domains. Transient expression of BcSSP2 in leaves caused chlorosis that intensifies with time and eventually leads to death. Point mutations in eight of 10 cysteine residues abolished phytotoxicity, but residual toxic activity remained after heating treatment, suggesting contribution of unknown epitopes to protein phytotoxicity. The expression of bcssp2 was low during the first 36 h after inoculation and increased sharply upon transition to late infection stage. Deletion of bcssp2 did not cause statistically significant changes in lesions size on bean and tobacco leaves. Further analyses indicated that the phytotoxicity of BcSSP2 is negatively regulated by the receptor-like kinases BAK1 and SOBIR1. Collectively, our findings show that BcSSP2 is an effector protein that toxifies the host cells, but is also recognized by the plant immune system.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3420-3435
Number of pages16
JournalEnvironmental Microbiology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2022


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