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Transcriptome Analysis Reveals Potential Regulators of DMI Fungicide Resistance in the Citrus Postharvest Pathogen Penicillium digitatum .

Green mold, caused by Penicillium digitatum , is the major cause of citrus postharvest decay. Currently, the application of sterol demethylation inhibitor (DMI) fungicide is one of the main control measures to prevent green mold. However, the fungicide-resistance problem in the pathogen P. digitatum is growing. The regulatory mechanism of DMI fungicide resistance in P. digitatum is poorly understood. Here, we first performed transcriptomic analysis of the P. digitatum strain Pdw03 treated with imazalil (IMZ) for 2 and 12 h. A total of 1338 genes were up-regulated and 1635 were down-regulated under IMZ treatment for 2 h compared to control while 1700 were up-regulated and 1661 down-regulated under IMZ treatment for 12 h. The expression of about half of the genes in the ergosterol biosynthesis pathway was affected during IMZ stress. Further analysis identified that 84 of 320 transcription factors (TFs) were differentially expressed at both conditions, making them potential regulators in DMI resistance. To confirm their roles, three differentially expressed TFs were selected to generate disruption mutants using the CRISPR/Cas9 technology. The results showed that two of them had no response to IMZ stress while ∆ PdflbC was more sensitive compared with the wild type. However, disruption of PdflbC did not affect the ergosterol content. The defect in IMZ sensitivity of ∆ PdflbC was restored by genetic complementation of the mutant with a functional copy of PdflbC . Taken together, our results offer a rich source of information to identify novel regulators in DMI resistance.

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