September 22, 2019  |  

Towards map-based cloning of FB_Mfu10: identification of a receptor-like kinase candidate gene underlying the Malus fusca fire blight resistance locus on linkage group 10.

Breeding for resistance against the destructive fire blight disease of apples is the most sustainable strategy to control the menace of this disease, and has become increasingly important in European apple breeding programs. Since most cultivars are susceptible, wild accessions have been explored for resistance with quantitative trait loci detected in a few wild species. Fire blight resistance of Malus fusca was described following phenotypic evaluations with a C-type strain of Erwinia amylovora, Ea222_JKI, and the detection of a major QTL on chromosome 10 (Mfu10) of this crabapple. The stability of the resistance of M. fusca and Mfu10 has been evaluated using two other strains, the highly aggressive Canadian S-type strain-Ea3049, and the avrRpt2EA mutant-ZYRKD3-1, both of which overcome the resistance of Malus ×robusta 5, a wild species accession with an already described fire blight resistance gene. To pave the way for positional cloning of the underlying fire blight resistance gene of M. fusca, we have fine mapped the QTL region on linkage group 10 using 1888 individuals and 23 newly developed molecular markers, thus delimiting the interval of interest to 0.33 cM between markers FR39G5T7xT7y/FR24N24RP and FRMf7358424/FR46H22. Tightly linked SSR markers are suitable for marker-assisted selection in breeding programs. Furthermore, a bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) clone spanning FB_Mfu10 region was isolated and sequenced. One putative fire blight resistance candidate gene of M. fusca was predicted on the sequence of BAC 46H22 within the resistance region that encodes B-lectin and serine/threonine kinase domains.


September 22, 2019  |  

Ma orthologous genes in Prunus spp. shed light on a noteworthy NBS-LRR cluster conferring differential resistance to root-knot nematodes.

Root-knot nematodes (RKNs) are considerable polyphagous pests that severely challenge plants worldwide and especially perennials. The specific genetic resistance of plants mainly relies on the NBS-LRR genes that are pivotal factors for pathogens control. In Prunus spp., the Ma plum and RMja almond genes possess different spectra for resistance to RKNs. While previous works based on the Ma gene allowed to clone it and to decipher its peculiar TIR-NBS-LRR (TNL) structure, we only knew that the RMja gene mapped on the same chromosome as Ma. We carried out a high-resolution mapping using an almond segregating F2 progeny of 1448 seedlings from resistant (R) and susceptible (S) parental accessions, to locate precisely RMja on the peach genome, the reference sequence for Prunus species. We showed that the RMja gene maps in the Ma resistance cluster and that the Ma ortholog is the best candidate for RMja. This co-localization is a crucial step that opens the way to unravel the molecular determinants involved in the resistance to RKNs. Then we sequenced both almond parental NGS genomes and aligned them onto the RKN susceptible reference peach genome. We produced a BAC library of the R parental accession and, from two overlapping BAC clones, we obtained a 336-kb sequence encompassing the RMja candidate region. Thus, we could benefit from three Ma orthologous regions to investigate their sequence polymorphism, respectively, within plum (complete R spectrum), almond (incomplete R spectrum) and peach (null R spectrum). We showed that the Ma TNL cluster has evolved orthologs with a unique conserved structure comprised of five repeated post-LRR (PL) domains, which contain most polymorphism. In addition to support the Ma and RMja orthologous relationship, our results suggest that the polymorphism contained in the PL sequences might underlie differential resistance interactions with RKNs and an original immune mechanism in woody perennials. Besides, our study illustrates how PL exon duplications and losses shape TNL structure and give rise to atypical PL domain repeats of yet unknown role.


September 22, 2019  |  

Cloning of the wheat Yr15 resistance gene sheds light on the plant tandem kinase-pseudokinase family.

Yellow rust, caused by Puccinia striiformis f. sp. tritici (Pst), is a devastating fungal disease threatening much of global wheat production. Race-specific resistance (R)-genes are used to control rust diseases, but the rapid emergence of virulent Pst races has prompted the search for a more durable resistance. Here, we report the cloning of Yr15, a broad-spectrum R-gene derived from wild emmer wheat, which encodes a putative kinase-pseudokinase protein, designated as wheat tandem kinase 1, comprising a unique R-gene structure in wheat. The existence of a similar gene architecture in 92 putative proteins across the plant kingdom, including the barley RPG1 and a candidate for Ug8, suggests that they are members of a distinct family of plant proteins, termed here tandem kinase-pseudokinases (TKPs). The presence of kinase-pseudokinase structure in both plant TKPs and the animal Janus kinases sheds light on the molecular evolution of immune responses across these two kingdoms.


September 21, 2019  |  

Potato late blight field resistance from QTL dPI09c is conferred by the NB-LRR gene R8.

Following the often short-lived protection that major nucleotide binding, leucine-rich-repeat (NB-LRR) resistance genes offer against the potato pathogen Phytophthora infestans, field resistance was thought to provide a more durable alternative to prevent late blight disease. We previously identified the QTL dPI09c on potato chromosome 9 as a more durable field resistance source against late blight. Here, the resistance QTL was fine-mapped to a 186 kb region. The interval corresponds to a larger, 389 kb, genomic region in the potato reference genome of Solanum tuberosum Group Phureja doubled monoploid clone DM1-3 (DM) and from which functional NB-LRRs R8, R9a, Rpi-moc1, and Rpi_vnt1 have arisen independently in wild species. dRenSeq analysis of parental clones alongside resistant and susceptible bulks of the segregating population B3C1HP showed full sequence representation of R8. This was independently validated using long-range PCR and screening of a bespoke bacterial artificial chromosome library. The latter enabled a comparative analysis of the sequence variation in this locus in diverse Solanaceae. We reveal for the first time that broad spectrum and durable field resistance against P. infestans is conferred by the NB-LRR gene R8, which is thought to provide narrow spectrum race-specific resistance.


July 19, 2019  |  

TAL effectors and activation of predicted host targets distinguish Asian from African strains of the rice pathogen Xanthomonas oryzae pv. oryzicola while strict conservation suggests universal importance of five TAL effectors.

Xanthomonas oryzae pv. oryzicola (Xoc) causes the increasingly important disease bacterial leaf streak of rice (BLS) in part by type III delivery of repeat-rich transcription activator-like (TAL) effectors to upregulate host susceptibility genes. By pathogen whole genome, single molecule, real-time sequencing and host RNA sequencing, we compared TAL effector content and rice transcriptional responses across 10 geographically diverse Xoc strains. TAL effector content is surprisingly conserved overall, yet distinguishes Asian from African isolates. Five TAL effectors are conserved across all strains. In a prior laboratory assay in rice cv. Nipponbare, only two contributed to virulence in strain BLS256 but the strict conservation indicates all five may be important, in different rice genotypes or in the field. Concatenated and aligned, TAL effector content across strains largely reflects relationships based on housekeeping genes, suggesting predominantly vertical transmission. Rice transcriptional responses did not reflect these relationships, and on average, only 28% of genes upregulated and 22% of genes downregulated by a strain are up- and down- regulated (respectively) by all strains. However, when only known TAL effector targets were considered, the relationships resembled those of the TAL effectors. Toward identifying new targets, we used the TAL effector-DNA recognition code to predict effector binding elements in promoters of genes upregulated by each strain, but found that for every strain, all upregulated genes had at least one. Filtering with a classifier we developed previously decreases the number of predicted binding elements across the genome, suggesting that it may reduce false positives among upregulated genes. Applying this filter and eliminating genes for which upregulation did not strictly correlate with presence of the corresponding TAL effector, we generated testable numbers of candidate targets for four of the five strictly conserved TAL effectors.


July 19, 2019  |  

Accelerated cloning of a potato late blight-resistance gene using RenSeq and SMRT sequencing.

Global yields of potato and tomato crops have fallen owing to potato late blight disease, which is caused by Phytophthora infestans. Although most commercial potato varieties are susceptible to blight, many wild potato relatives show variation for resistance and are therefore a potential source of Resistance to P. infestans (Rpi) genes. Resistance breeding has exploited Rpi genes from closely related tuber-bearing potato relatives, but is laborious and slow. Here we report that the wild, diploid non-tuber-bearing Solanum americanum harbors multiple Rpi genes. We combine resistance (R) gene sequence capture (RenSeq) with single-molecule real-time (SMRT) sequencing (SMRT RenSeq) to clone Rpi-amr3i. This technology should enable de novo assembly of complete nucleotide-binding, leucine-rich repeat receptor (NLR) genes, their regulatory elements and complex multi-NLR loci from uncharacterized germplasm. SMRT RenSeq can be applied to rapidly clone multiple R genes for engineering pathogen-resistant crops.


July 19, 2019  |  

Continuous evolution of Bacillus thuringiensis toxins overcomes insect resistance.

The Bacillus thuringiensis d-endotoxins (Bt toxins) are widely used insecticidal proteins in engineered crops that provide agricultural, economic, and environmental benefits. The development of insect resistance to Bt toxins endangers their long-term effectiveness. Here we have developed a phage-assisted continuous evolution selection that rapidly evolves high-affinity protein-protein interactions, and applied this system to evolve variants of the Bt toxin Cry1Ac that bind a cadherin-like receptor from the insect pest Trichoplusia ni (TnCAD) that is not natively bound by wild-type Cry1Ac. The resulting evolved Cry1Ac variants bind TnCAD with high affinity (dissociation constant Kd?=?11-41?nM), kill TnCAD-expressing insect cells that are not susceptible to wild-type Cry1Ac, and kill Cry1Ac-resistant T. ni insects up to 335-fold more potently than wild-type Cry1Ac. Our findings establish that the evolution of Bt toxins with novel insect cell receptor affinity can overcome insect Bt toxin resistance and confer lethality approaching that of the wild-type Bt toxin against non-resistant insects.


July 19, 2019  |  

SMRT RenSeq protocol

R gene enrichment and Sequencing (RenSeq, Jupe et al. 2013) is a genome complexity reduction method which allows to enrich for nucleotide-binding, leucine reach repeat (NLR) type plant disease resistance genes prior to sequencing. RenSeq was established and successfully used with Illumina platforms (Jupe et al. 2013, Andolfo et al. 2014), however the repetitive nature of NLR genes hampered de novo assembly of this family. Here we describe a protocol which enables to prepare long enriched libraries that are suitable for Pacific Biosciences Single-Molecule Real Time (SMRT) sequencing. Reads Of Inserts (ROI) generated with this protocol are around 3-4 kb in length (longer than the average NLR sequence). These long reads are especially well suited for de novo assembly of whole NLR genes including their regulatory elements


July 19, 2019  |  

Targeted capture and sequencing of gene-sized DNA molecules.

Targeted capture provides an efficient and sensitive means for sequencing specific genomic regions in a high-throughput manner. To date, this method has mostly been used to capture exons from the genome (the exome) using short insert libraries and short-read sequencing technology, enabling the identification of genetic variants or new members of large gene families. Sequencing larger molecules results in the capture of whole genes, including intronic and intergenic sequences that are typically more polymorphic and allow the resolution of the gene structure of homologous genes, which are often clustered together on the chromosome. Here, we describe an improved method for the capture and single-molecule sequencing of DNA molecules as large as 7 kb by means of size selection and optimized PCR conditions. Our approach can be used to capture, sequence, and distinguish between similar members of the NB-LRR gene family-key genes in plant immune systems.


July 19, 2019  |  

TAL effector driven induction of a SWEET gene confers susceptibility to bacterial blight of cotton.

Transcription activator-like (TAL) effectors from Xanthomonas citri subsp. malvacearum (Xcm) are essential for bacterial blight of cotton (BBC). Here, by combining transcriptome profiling with TAL effector-binding element (EBE) prediction, we show that GhSWEET10, encoding a functional sucrose transporter, is induced by Avrb6, a TAL effector determining Xcm pathogenicity. Activation of GhSWEET10 by designer TAL effectors (dTALEs) restores virulence of Xcm avrb6 deletion strains, whereas silencing of GhSWEET10 compromises cotton susceptibility to infections. A BBC-resistant line carrying an unknown recessive b6 gene bears the same EBE as the susceptible line, but Avrb6-mediated induction of GhSWEET10 is reduced, suggesting a unique mechanism underlying b6-mediated resistance. We show via an extensive survey of GhSWEET transcriptional responsiveness to different Xcm field isolates that additional GhSWEETs may also be involved in BBC. These findings advance our understanding of the disease and resistance in cotton and may facilitate the development cotton with improved resistance to BBC.


July 19, 2019  |  

Characterisation of MHC class I genes in the koala.

Koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) populations are on the decline across the majority of Australia’s mainland. Two major diseases threatening the long-term survival of affected koala populations are caused by obligate intracellular pathogens: Chlamydia and koala retrovirus (KoRV). To improve our understanding of the koala immune system, we characterised their major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I genes, which are centrally involved in presenting foreign peptides derived from intracellular pathogens to cytotoxic T cells. A total of 11 class I genes were identified in the koala genome. Three genes, Phci-UA, UB and UC, showed relatively high genetic variability and were expressed in all 12 examined tissues, whereas the other eight genes had tissue-specific expression and limited polymorphism. Evidence of diversifying selection was detected in Phci-UA and UC, while gene conversion may have played a role in creating new alleles at Phci-UB. We propose that Phci-UA, UB and UC are likely classical MHC genes of koalas, and further research is needed to understand their role in koala chlamydial and KoRV infections.


July 7, 2019  |  

Divergent evolution of multiple virus-resistance genes from a progenitor in Capsicum spp.

Plants have evolved hundreds of nucleotide-binding and leucine-rich domain proteins (NLRs) as potential intracellular immune receptors, but the evolutionary mechanism leading to the ability to recognize specific pathogen effectors is elusive. Here, we cloned Pvr4 (a Potyvirus resistance gene in Capsicum annuum) and Tsw (a Tomato spotted wilt virus resistance gene in Capsicum chinense) via a genome-based approach using independent segregating populations. The genes both encode typical NLRs and are located at the same locus on pepper chromosome 10. Despite the fact that these two genes recognize completely different viral effectors, the genomic structures and coding sequences of the two genes are strikingly similar. Phylogenetic studies revealed that these two immune receptors diverged from a progenitor gene of a common ancestor. Our results suggest that sequence variations caused by gene duplication and neofunctionalization may underlie the evolution of the ability to specifically recognize different effectors. These findings thereby provide insight into the divergent evolution of plant immune receptors.© 2016 The Authors. New Phytologist © 2016 New Phytologist Trust.


July 7, 2019  |  

Divergent and convergent modes of interaction between wheat and Puccinia graminis f. sp. tritici isolates revealed by the comparative gene co-expression network and genome analyses.

Two opposing evolutionary constraints exert pressure on plant pathogens: one to diversify virulence factors in order to evade plant defenses, and the other to retain virulence factors critical for maintaining a compatible interaction with the plant host. To better understand how the diversified arsenals of fungal genes promote interaction with the same compatible wheat line, we performed a comparative genomic analysis of two North American isolates of Puccinia graminis f. sp. tritici (Pgt).The patterns of inter-isolate divergence in the secreted candidate effector genes were compared with the levels of conservation and divergence of plant-pathogen gene co-expression networks (GCN) developed for each isolate. Comprative genomic analyses revealed substantial level of interisolate divergence in effector gene complement and sequence divergence. Gene Ontology (GO) analyses of the conserved and unique parts of the isolate-specific GCNs identified a number of conserved host pathways targeted by both isolates. Interestingly, the degree of inter-isolate sub-network conservation varied widely for the different host pathways and was positively associated with the proportion of conserved effector candidates associated with each sub-network. While different Pgt isolates tended to exploit similar wheat pathways for infection, the mode of plant-pathogen interaction varied for different pathways with some pathways being associated with the conserved set of effectors and others being linked with the diverged or isolate-specific effectors.Our data suggest that at the intra-species level pathogen populations likely maintain divergent sets of effectors capable of targeting the same plant host pathways. This functional redundancy may play an important role in the dynamic of the “arms-race” between host and pathogen serving as the basis for diverse virulence strategies and creating conditions where mutations in certain effector groups will not have a major effect on the pathogen’s ability to infect the host.


July 7, 2019  |  

A small secreted protein in Zymoseptoria tritici is responsible for avirulence on wheat cultivars carrying the Stb6 resistance gene.

Zymoseptoria tritici is the causal agent of Septoria tritici blotch, a major pathogen of wheat globally and the most damaging pathogen of wheat in Europe. A gene-for-gene (GFG) interaction between Z. tritici and wheat cultivars carrying the Stb6 resistance gene has been postulated for many years, but the genes have not been identified. We identified AvrStb6 by combining quantitative trait locus mapping in a cross between two Swiss strains with a genome-wide association study using a natural population of c. 100 strains from France. We functionally validated AvrStb6 using ectopic transformations. AvrStb6 encodes a small, cysteine-rich, secreted protein that produces an avirulence phenotype on wheat cultivars carrying the Stb6 resistance gene. We found 16 nonsynonymous single nucleotide polymorphisms among the tested strains, indicating that AvrStb6 is evolving very rapidly. AvrStb6 is located in a highly polymorphic subtelomeric region and is surrounded by transposable elements, which may facilitate its rapid evolution to overcome Stb6 resistance. AvrStb6 is the first avirulence gene to be functionally validated in Z. tritici, contributing to our understanding of avirulence in apoplastic pathogens and the mechanisms underlying GFG interactions between Z. tritici and wheat. © 2017 The Authors. New Phytologist © 2017 New Phytologist Trust.


July 7, 2019  |  

Xanthomonas adaptation to common bean is associated with horizontal transfers of genes encoding TAL effectors.

Common bacterial blight is a devastating bacterial disease of common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) caused by Xanthomonas citri pv. fuscans and Xanthomonas phaseoli pv. phaseoli. These phylogenetically distant strains are able to cause similar symptoms on common bean, suggesting that they have acquired common genetic determinants of adaptation to common bean. Transcription Activator-Like (TAL) effectors are bacterial type III effectors that are able to induce the expression of host genes to promote infection or resistance. Their capacity to bind to a specific host DNA sequence suggests that they are potential candidates for host adaption.To study the diversity of tal genes from Xanthomonas strains responsible for common bacterial blight of bean, whole genome sequences of 17 strains representing the diversity of X. citri pv. fuscans and X. phaseoli pv. phaseoli were obtained by single molecule real time sequencing. Analysis of these genomes revealed the existence of four tal genes named tal23A, tal20F, tal18G and tal18H, respectively. While tal20F and tal18G were chromosomic, tal23A and tal18H were carried on plasmids and shared between phylogenetically distant strains, therefore suggesting recent horizontal transfers of these genes between X. citri pv. fuscans and X. phaseoli pv. phaseoli strains. Strikingly, tal23A was present in all strains studied, suggesting that it played an important role in adaptation to common bean. In silico predictions of TAL effectors targets in the common bean genome suggested that TAL effectors shared by X. citri pv. fuscans and X. phaseoli pv. phaseoli strains target the promoters of genes of similar functions. This could be a trace of convergent evolution among TAL effectors from different phylogenetic groups, and comforts the hypothesis that TAL effectors have been implied in the adaptation to common bean.Altogether, our results favour a model where plasmidic TAL effectors are able to contribute to host adaptation by being horizontally transferred between distant lineages.


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