Dissection of Innate Immunity in Tomato and Tolerance to Bacterial Wilt in Solanaceae species

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Virginia Tech


Unlike mammals, plants do not have specific immune cells. However, plants can still recognize pathogens and defend themselves. They do that by recognizing microbial-associated molecular patterns (MAMPs) and secreted pathogen proteins, called effectors. MAMP-triggered immunity (MTI) relies on recognition of MAMPs by leucine-rich repeats (LRRs) pattern-recognition receptors (PRRs). The best-studied LRR PRR is Flagellin-Sensitive 2 (Fls2), the receptor of a 22-amino acid long epitope of bacterial flagellin, called flg22. In this project, alleles of FLS2 of different tomato cultivars were sequenced and compared to each other to get insight into natural selection acting on FLS2 and to identify residues important for ligand binding. This information may be used in the future to engineer Fls2 for improved ability to recognize flagellin. MTI can be suppressed by effectors secreted by bacteria into plant cells through the type III secretion system. On the other hand, plants are equipped with repertoires of resistance proteins, which can recognize some pathogen effectors. If a pathogen carries an effector that is recognized, effector-triggered immunity (ETI) is activated and the plant is resistant. Here, eggplant breeding lines were screened for their ability to activate ETI upon recognition of effectors of the soil borne pathogen Ralstonia solanacearum, a causative agent of bacterial wilt. Four effectors were found to trigger plant defenses in some of the lines. This is the first step in cloning the genes coding for the responsible resistance proteins. These genes may be used in the future for engineering tomato and potato for resistance to bacterial wilt.



MAMP-triggered plant immunity, effector-triggered plant immunity, LRR receptors, effector, Ralstonia solanacearum, eggplant