Compartmentalized gene regulatory network of the pathogenic fungus Fusarium graminearum

Li Guo, Guoyi Zhao, Jin Rong Xu, H. Corby Kistler, Lixin Gao, Li Jun Ma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Head blight caused by Fusarium graminearum threatens world-wide wheat production, resulting in both yield loss and mycotoxin contamination. We reconstructed the global F. graminearum gene regulatory network (GRN) from a large collection of transcriptomic data using Bayesian network inference, a machine-learning algorithm. This GRN reveals connectivity between key regulators and their target genes. Focusing on key regulators, this network contains eight distinct but interwoven modules. Enriched for unique functions, such as cell cycle, DNA replication, transcription, translation and stress responses, each module exhibits distinct expression profiles. Evolutionarily, the F. graminearum genome can be divided into core regions shared with closely related species and variable regions harboring genes that are unique to F. graminearum and perform species-specific functions. Interestingly, the inferred top regulators regulate genes that are significantly enriched from the same genomic regions (P < 0.05), revealing a compartmentalized network structure that may reflect network rewiring related to specific adaptation of this plant pathogen. This first-ever reconstructed filamentous fungal GRN primes our understanding of pathogenicity at the systems biology level and provides enticing prospects for novel disease control strategies involving the targeting of master regulators in pathogens. The program can be used to construct GRNs of other plant pathogens.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)527-541
Number of pages15
JournalThe New phytologist
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 1 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 The Authors. New Phytologist © 2016 New Phytologist Trust.


  • Bayesian network inference
  • Fusarium graminearum
  • cell circuits
  • modularity
  • network rewire and fungal pathogenesis


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