Fungal infection induces sex-specific transcriptional changes and alters sexual dimorphism in the dioecious plant Silene latifolia.
Sexual dimorphism, including differences in morphology, behavior and physiology between females and males, is shaped by gene expression differences between the sexes. These may also underlie sex-specific responses to pathogen infections, most notably when pathogens induce a sex change in infected hosts. The anther smut fungus Micobrotryum lychnidis-dioicae infects females and males of White Campion and induces a partial sex change in females such that they produce rudimentary stamen in which fungal spores develop. In this article, the authors report sex-specific transcriptomic changes upon smut infection and show that these changes also alter sexual dimorphism in White Campion. See Zemp et al.
Image Credit: Martin C. Fischer