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How an Aggressive Fungal Pathogen Causes Mold in Fruits and Vegetables

A research team led by a molecular plant pathologist at the University of California, Riverside has discovered the mechanism by which an aggressive fungal pathogen infects almost all fruits and vegetables.

The team discovered a novel “virulence mechanism” — the mechanism by which infection takes place — of Botrytis cinerea. This pathogen can infect more than 200 plant species, causing serious gray mold disease on almost all fruits and vegetables that have been around, even at times in the refrigerator, for more than a week.

Study results appear in the Oct. 4 issue of the journal Science.

Many bacterial, fungal and oomycete pathogens deliver protein effectors — molecules the pathogens secrete — into the cells of hosts to manipulate and, eventually, compromise host immunity.

The new study represents the first example of a fungal pathogen delivering RNA effectors, specifically small RNA effector molecules, into host cells to suppress host immunity and achieve infection of the host plant.

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