A cDNA microarray approach to decipher sunflower (Helianthus annuus) responses to the necrotrophic fungus Phoma macdonaldii

Marion Alignan, Tarek Hewezi, Michel Petitprez, Grégory Dechamp-Guillaume, Laurent Gentzbittel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)


To identify the genes involved in the partial resistance of sunflower (Helianthus annuus) to the necrotrophic fungus Phoma macdonaldii, we developed a 1000-element cDNA microarray containing carefully chosen genes putatively involved in primary metabolic pathways, signal transduction and biotic stress responses. A two-pass general linear model was used to normalize the data and then to detect differentially expressed genes. This method allowed us to identify 38 genes differentially expressed among genotypes, treatments and times, mainly belonging to plant defense, signaling pathways and amino acid metabolism. Based on a set of genes whose differential expression was highly significant, we propose a model in which negative regulation of a dual-specificity MAPK phosphatase could be implicated in sunflower defense mechanisms against the pathogen. The resulting activation of the MAP kinase cascade could subsequently trigger defense responses (e.g. thaumatin biosynthesis and phenylalanine ammonia lyase activation), under the control of transcription factors belonging to MYB and WRKY families. Concurrently, the activation of protein phosphatase 2A (PP2A), which is implicated in cell death inhibition, could limit pathogen development. The results reported here provide a valuable first step towards the understanding and analysis of the P. macdonaldii-sunflower interaction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)523-536
Number of pages14
JournalNew Phytologist
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • cDNA microarray
  • Helianthus annuus (sunflower)
  • Necrotrophic fungus
  • Partial resistance
  • Phoma macdonaldii
  • Plant defense


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