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A systematic analysis of apple root resistance traits to Pythium ultimum infection and the underpinned molecular regulations of defense activation

Zhu Yanmin, Saltzgiver Melody Jean
Horticulture research 2020 v.7 no.62 pp. -
CRISPR-Cas systems, Malus domestica, Pythium ultimum, apples, defense mechanisms, disease susceptibility, fungal diseases of plants, gene regulatory networks, genes, genome-wide association study, genotype, hyphae, necrosis, orchards, phenotype, plant disease resistance, plant germplasm, replant disease, root diseases, roots, rootstocks, survival rate, transcription (genetics), transcriptome, transcriptomics, transgene silencing, transgenic plants, transgenic resistance
Apple replant disease (ARD), caused by a pathogen complex, significantly impacts apple orchard establishment. The molecular regulation on ARD resistance has not been investigated until recently. A systematic phenotyping effort and a series of transcriptomic analyses were performed to uncover the underpinned molecular mechanism of apple root resistance to P. ultimum, a representative member in ARD pathogen complex. Genotype-specific plant survival rates and biomass reduction corresponded with microscopic features of necrosis progression patterns along the infected root. The presence of defined boundaries separating healthy and necrotic sections likely caused delayed necrosis expansion in roots of resistant genotypes compared with swift necrosis progression and profuse hyphae growth along infected roots of susceptible genotypes. Comprehensive datasets from a series of transcriptome analyses generated the first panoramic view of genome-wide transcriptional networks of defense activation between resistant and susceptible apple roots. Earlier and stronger molecular defense activation, such as pathogen perception and hormone signaling, may differentiate resistance from susceptibility in apple root. Delayed and interrupted activation of multiple defense pathways could have led to an inadequate resistance response. Using the panel of apple rootstock germplasm with defined resistant and susceptible phenotypes, selected candidate genes are being investigated by transgenic manipulation including CRISPR/Cas9 tools for their specific roles during apple root defense toward P. ultimum infection. Individual apple genes with validated functions regulating root resistance responses can be exploited for developing molecular tools for accurate and efficient incorporation of resistance traits into new apple rootstocks.