Cytotoxic activity of Nep1-like proteins on monocots

Steentjes, Maikel B.F.; Herrera Valderrama, Andrea L.; Fouillen, Laetitia; Bahammou, Delphine; Leisen, Thomas; Albert, Isabell; Nürnberger, Thorsten; Hahn, Matthias; Mongrand, Sébastien; Scholten, Olga E.; Kan, Jan A.L. van


Necrosis- and ethylene-inducing peptide 1 (Nep1)-like proteins (NLPs) are found throughout several plant-associated microbial taxa and are typically considered to possess cytolytic activity exclusively on dicot plant species. However, cytolytic NLPs are also produced by pathogens of monocot plants such as the onion (Allium cepa) pathogen Botrytis squamosa. We determined the cytotoxic activity of B. squamosa BsNep1, as well as other previously characterized NLPs, on various monocot plant species and assessed the plant plasma membrane components required for NLP sensitivity. Leaf infiltration of NLPs showed that onion cultivars are differentially sensitive to NLPs, and analysis of their sphingolipid content revealed that the GIPC series A : series B ratio did not correlate to NLP sensitivity. A tri-hybrid population derived from a cross between onion and two wild relatives showed variation in NLP sensitivity within the population. We identified a quantitative trait locus (QTL) for NLP insensitivity that colocalized with a previously identified QTL for B. squamosa resistance and the segregating trait of NLP insensitivity correlated with the sphingolipid content. Our results demonstrate the cytotoxic activity of NLPs on several monocot plant species and legitimize their presence in monocot-specific plant pathogens.