Post-translational regulation of autophagy is involved in intra-microbiome suppression of fungal pathogens

Wang Jing, Chaoyun Xu, Qiming Sun, Jinrong Xu, Yunrong Chai, Gabriele Berg, Tomislav Cernava, Zhonghua Ma, Yun Chen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Microbiome interactions are important determinants for ecosystem functioning, stability, and health. In previous studies, it was often observed that bacteria suppress potentially pathogenic fungal species that are part of the same plant microbiota; however, the underlying microbe-microbe interplay remains mostly elusive. Here, we explored antagonistic interactions of the fungus Fusarium graminearum and bacterium Streptomyces hygroscopicus at the molecular level. Both are ubiquitous members of the healthy wheat microbiota; under dysbiosis, the fungus causes devastating diseases. Results: In co-cultures, we found that Streptomyces alters the fungal acetylome leading to substantial induction of fungal autophagy. The bacterium secrets rapamycin to inactivate the target of rapamycin (TOR), which subsequently promotes the degradation of the fungal histone acetyltransferase Gcn5 through the 26S proteasome. Gcn5 negatively regulates fungal autophagy by acetylating the autophagy-related protein Atg8 at the lysine site K13 and blocking cellular relocalization of Atg8. Thus, degradation of Gcn5 triggered by rapamycin was found to reduce Atg8 acetylation, resulting in autophagy induction in F. graminearum. Conclusions: Autophagy homeostasis plays an essential role in fungal growth and competition, as well as for virulence. Our work reveals a novel post-translational regulation of autophagy initiated by a bacterial antibiotic. Rapamycin was shown to be a powerful modulator of bacteria–fungi interactions with potential importance in explaining microbial homeostasis in healthy plant microbiomes. The autophagic process provides novel possibilities and targets to biologically control pathogens. 

Original languageEnglish
Article number131
Pages (from-to)1-18
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Acetylation
  • Autophagy
  • Bacterial–fungal interaction
  • Fusarium graminearum
  • Intra-microbiome
  • Post-translational regulation
  • Streptomyces hygroscopicus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Microbiology

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