Fungal plant pathogens secrete effector molecules to establish disease on their hosts, and plants in turn use immune receptors to try to intercept these effectors. The tomato immune receptor Ve1 governs resistance to race 1 strains of the soil-borne vascular wilt fungi Verticillium dahliae and Verticillium albo-atrum, but the corresponding Verticillium effector remained unknown thus far. By high-throughput population genome sequencing, a single 50-Kb sequence stretch was identified that only occurs in race 1 strains, and subsequent transcriptome sequencing of Verticillium-infected Nicotiana benthamiana plants revealed only a single highly expressed ORF in this region, designated Ave1 (for Avirulence on Ve1 tomato). Functional analyses confirmed that Ave1 activates Ve1-mediated resistance and demonstrated that Ave1 markedly contributes to fungal virulence, not only on tomato but also on Arabidopsis. Interestingly, Ave1 is homologous to a widespread family of plant natriuretic peptides. Besides plants, homologous proteins were only found in the bacterial plant pathogen Xanthomonas axonopodis and the plant pathogenic fungi Colletotrichum higginsianum, Cercospora beticola, and Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. lycopersici. The distribution of Ave1 homologs, coincident with the presence of Ave1 within a flexible genomic region, strongly suggests that Verticillium acquired Ave1 from plants through horizontal gene transfer. Remarkably, by transient expression we show that also the Ave1 homologs from F. oxysporum and C. beticola can activate Ve1-mediated resistance. In line with this observation, Ve1 was found to mediate resistance toward F. oxysporum in tomato, showing that this immune receptor is involved in resistance against multiple fungal pathogens.
Via IPM Lab