Cytokinin Inhibits Fungal Development and Virulence by Targeting the Cytoskeleton and Cellular Trafficking

Rupali Gupta, Gautam Anand, Lorena Pizarro, Dana Laor, Neta Kovetz, Noa Sela, Tal Yehuda, Ehud Gazit, Maya Bar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Cytokinin (CK) is an important plant developmental regulator, having activities in many aspects of plant life and response to the environment. CKs are involved in diverse processes in the plant, including stem cell maintenance, vascular differentiation, growth and branching of roots and shoots, leaf senescence, nutrient balance, and stress tolerance. In some cases, phytopathogens secrete CKs. It has been suggested that to achieve pathogenesis in the host, CK-secreting biotrophs manipulate CK signaling to regulate the host cell cycle and nutrient allocation. CK is known to induce host plant resistance to several classes of phytopathogens from a few works, with induced host immunity via salicylic acid signaling suggested to be the prevalent mechanism for this host resistance. Here, we show that CK directly inhibits the growth, development, and virulence of fungal phytopathogens. Focusing on Botrytis cinerea (Bc), we demonstrate that various aspects of fungal development can be reversibly inhibited by CK. We also found that CK affects both budding and fission yeast in a similar manner. Investigating the mechanism by which CK influences fungal development, we conducted RNA next-generation sequencing (RNA-NGS) on mockand CK-treated B. cinerea samples, finding that CK alters the cell cycle, cytoskeleton, and endocytosis. Cell biology experiments demonstrated that CK affects cytoskeleton components and cellular trafficking in Bc, lowering endocytic rates and endomembrane compartment sizes, likely leading to reduced growth rates and arrested developmental programs. Mutant analyses in yeast confirmed that the endocytic pathway is altered by CK. Our work uncovers a remarkably conserved role for a plant growth hormone in fungal biology, suggesting that pathogen-host interactions resulted in fascinating molecular adaptations on fundamental processes in eukaryotic biology.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere03068-20
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Botrytis cinerea
  • Cell cycle
  • Cytokinin
  • Cytoskeleton
  • Endocytosis
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Virology


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