Botrytis cinerea is a necrotrophic fungal pathogen causing the grey mould disease on many plant species. Recent reports described a remarkable phenomenon, in which Botrytis and its host plant Arabidopsis thaliana perform bidirectional cross kingdom-small RNA (ck-sRNA) exchange that affect plant defense and fungal virulence (Weiberg et al., Science, 2013; Cai et al., Science, 2018). Among the gene silencing pathway components, Argonaute proteins are considered as one of the key players in ckRNA interference (ckRNAi).
In my project, I am studying the ckRNAi phenomenon in the Botrytis-tomato pathosystem. Herein, I aim to uncover which plant ck-sRNAs are loaded into the BcAGO proteins to achieve gene silencing in Botrytis. Moreover, I am exploring the roles of BcAGOs related to fungal pathogenicity.