A new clade, Trichoderma formosa, secretes eliciting plant response-like 1 (Epl1), a small peptide elicitor that stimulates plant immunity. Nicotiana benthamiana pretreated with Epl1 for 3 days developed immunity against Tomato mosaic virus (ToMV) infection. The transcriptome profiles of T. formosa and N. benthamiana were obtained by deep sequencing; the transcript of Epl1 is 736 nt in length and encodes a 12-kDa peptide. Identifying critical genes in Epl1-mediated immunity was challenging due to high similarity between the transcriptome expression profiles of Epl1-treated and ToMV-infected N. benthamiana samples. Therefore, an efficient bioinformatics data mining approach was used for high-throughput transcriptomic assays in this study. We integrated gene-to-gene network analysis into the ContigViews transcriptome database, and genes related to jasmonic acid and ethylene signaling, salicylic acid signaling, leucine-rich repeats, transcription factors, and histone variants were hubs in the gene-to-gene networks. In this study, the Epl1 of T. formosa triggers plant immunity against various pathogen infections. Moreover, we demonstrated that high-throughput data mining and gene-to-gene network analysis can be used to identify critical candidate genes for further studies on the mechanisms of plant immunity.
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