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Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Program

Plant Biology

Degree Type

Master of Science (M.S.)

Year Degree Awarded

2019

Month Degree Awarded

September

Abstract

Fusarium oxysporum (Fo) is a soil-borne fungal pathogen that causes vascular wilt disease on a broad range of plants, including agricultural crops and the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana. There are non-pathogenic members of the Fo species complex that confer defense benefits against other pathogens to the host plant, however alteration to the host’s physiology through interaction with one of these strains, Fo47, have not been described. In this study, we aimed to establish the Fo47-A. thaliana interaction and determine if Fo47 reduces disease severity of a pathogenic Fo isolate, Fo5176. Additionally, we sought to use bioinformatics to mine transcriptomic data of the infection between Fo47 and A. thaliana for putative effectors from the non-pathogenic isolate using a pipeline that is validated by identifying known effectors in the interaction between Fo5176 and A. thaliana. Phenotypic characterization of A. thaliana plants inoculated with Fo47 or Fo5176 has revealed a significant increase in rosette biomass of Fo47 inoculated plants when compared to mock (sterile water) inoculated plants. As is observed in other systems, treatment of plants with Fo47 prior to challenging with pathogenic Fo significantly reduces the disease severity over time. The results of this study suggest that Fo47 is a possible biocontrol agent against Fo5176, and that inoculation with non-pathogenic Fo alters the physiology of A. thaliana such that it has a higher rosette biomass without alterations to the water status of the plant. Our pipeline for extracting putative effectors using transcriptomic data as a critical filter generated 13 candidate genes for further experimentation to determine their role in the Fo47-A. thaliana interaction. This research reports the first known observation that Fo47 increases the shoot biomass of the host plant it is interacting with, and that the model plant A. thaliana can be used as a host to examine the spectrum of interactions capable within the Fusarium oxysporum species complex.

First Advisor

Li-Jun Ma

Second Advisor

Michelle DaCosta

Third Advisor

Robert Wick

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