In February 2016, a new fungal disease was spotted in wheat fields across eight districts in Bangladesh. The epidemic spread to an estimated 15,000 hectares, about 16 % of the cultivated wheat area in Bangladesh, with yield losses reaching up to 100 %. Within weeks of the onset of the epidemic, we performed transcriptome sequencing of symptomatic leaf samples collected directly from Bangladeshi fields.
Reinoculation of seedlings with strains isolated from infected wheat grains showed wheat blast symptoms on leaves of wheat but not rice. Our phylogenomic and population genomic analyses revealed that the wheat blast outbreak in Bangladesh was most likely caused by a wheat-infecting South American lineage of the blast fungus Magnaporthe oryzae.
Our findings suggest that genomic surveillance can be rapidly applied to monitor plant disease outbreaks and provide valuable information regarding the identity and origin of the infectious agent.
The domestication of plants is underscored by the selection of agriculturally favorable developmental traits, including flowering time, which resulted in the creation of varieties with altered growth habits. Research into the pathways underlying these growth habits in cereals has highlighted the role of three main flowering regulators: VRN1, VRN2, and FT. Previous reverse genetic studies suggested that the roles of VRN1 and FT are conserved in Brachypodium distachyon, yet identified considerable ambiguity surrounding the role of VRN2. To investigate the natural diversity governing flowering time pathways in a non-domesticated grass, the reference B. distachyon accession Bd21 was crossed with the vernalization-dependent accession ABR6. Resequencing of ABR6 allowed the creation of a SNP-based genetic map at the F4 stage of the mapping population. Flowering time was evaluated in F4:5 families in five environmental conditions and three major loci were found to govern flowering time. Interestingly, two of these loci colocalize with the B. distachyon homologs of the major flowering pathway genes VRN2 and FT, whereas no linkage was observed at VRN1. Characterization of these candidates identified sequence and expression variation between the two parental genotypes, which may explain the contrasting growth habits. However, the identification of additional QTLs suggests that greater complexity underlies flowering time in this non-domesticated system. Studying the interaction of these regulators in B. distachyon provides insights into the evolutionary context of flowering time regulation in the Poaeceae, as well as elucidates the way humans have utilized the natural variation present in grasses to create modern temperate cereals.
Leucine-rich repeat receptor-like kinases (LRR-RLKs) represent the largest subfamily of plant RLKs. The functions of most LRR-RLKs have remained undiscovered, and a few that have been experimentally characterized have been shown to have important roles in growth and development as well as in defense responses. Although RLK subfamilies have been previously studied in many plants, no comprehensive study has been performed on this gene family in Citrus species, which have high economic importance and are frequent targets for emerging pathogens. In this study, we performed in silico analysis to identify and classify LRR-RLK homologues in the predicted proteomes of Citrus clementina (clementine) and Citrus sinensis (sweet orange). In addition, we used large-scale phylogenetic approaches to elucidate the evolutionary relationships of the LRR-RLKs and further narrowed the analysis to the LRR-XII group, which contains several previously described cell surface immune receptors.
Recognition of pathogen-derived molecules by pattern recognition receptors (PRRs) is a common feature of both animal and plant innate immune systems. In plants, PRR signalling is initiated at the cell surface by kinase complexes, resulting in the activation of immune responses that ward off microorganisms. However, the activation and amplitude of innate immune responses must be tightly controlled. In this Review, we summarize our knowledge of the early signalling events that follow PRR activation and describe the mechanisms that fine-tune immune signalling to maintain immune homeostasis. We also illustrate the mechanisms used by pathogens to inhibit innate immune signalling and discuss how the innate ability of plant cells to monitor the integrity of key immune components can lead to autoimmune phenotypes following genetic or pathogen-induced perturbations of these components.
Filamentous plant pathogens deliver effector proteins to host cells to promote infection. The Phytophthora infestans RXLR-type effector PexRD54 binds potato ATG8 via its ATG8-family interacting motif (AIM) and perturbs host selective autophagy. However, the structural basis of this interaction remains unknown. Here we define the crystal structure of PexRD54, which comprises a modular architecture including five tandem repeat domains, with the AIM sequence presented at the disordered C-terminus. To determine the interface between PexRD54 and ATG8, we solved the crystal structure of potato ATG8CL in complex with a peptide comprising the effectors AIM sequence, and established a model of the full-length PexRD54/ATG8CL complex using small angle X-ray scattering. Structure-informed deletion of the PexRD54 tandem domains reveals retention of ATG8CL binding in vitro and in planta. This study offers new insights into structure/function relationships of oomycete RXLR effectors and how these proteins engage with host cell targets to promote disease.
In February 2016, a new fungal disease was spotted in wheat fields across eight districts in Bangladesh. The epidemic spread to an estimated 15,741 hectares, about 16% of cultivated wheat area in Bangladesh, with yield losses reaching up to 100%. Within weeks of the onset of the epidemic, we performed transcriptome sequencing of symptomatic leaf samples collected directly from Bangladeshi fields. Population genomics analyses revealed that the outbreak was caused by a wheat-infecting South American lineage of the blast fungus Magnaporthe oryzae. We show that genomic surveillance can be rapidly applied to monitor plant disease outbreaks and provide valuable information regarding the identity and origin of the infectious agent.
Sumoylation is an essential post-translational regulator of plant development and the response to environmental stimuli. SUMO conjugation occurs via an E1-E2-E3 cascade, and can be removed by SUMO proteases (ULPs). ULPs are numerous and likely to function as sources of specificity within the pathway, yet most ULPs remain functionally unresolved. In this report we used loss-of-function reverse genetics and transcriptomics to functionally characterize Arabidopsis thaliana ULP1c and ULP1d SUMO proteases. GUS reporter assays implicated ULP1c/d in various developmental stages, and subsequent defects in growth and germination were uncovered using loss-of-function mutants. Microarray analysis evidenced not only a deregulation of genes involved in development, but also in genes controlled by various drought-associated transcriptional regulators. We demonstrated that ulp1c ulp1d displayed diminished in vitro root growth under low water potential and higher stomatal aperture, yet leaf transpirational water loss and whole drought tolerance were not significantly altered. Generation of a triple siz1 ulp1c ulp1d mutant suggests that ULP1c/d and the SUMO E3 ligase SIZ1 may display separate functions in development yet operate epistatically in response to water deficit. We provide experimental evidence that Arabidopsis ULP1c and ULP1d proteases act redundantly as positive regulators of growth, and operate mainly as isopeptidases downstream of SIZ1 in the control of water deficit responses.
The oomycete pathogen Phytophthora infestans causes potato late blight, and as a potato and tomato specialist pathogen, is seemingly poorly adapted to infect plants outside the Solanaceae. Here, we report the unexpected finding that P. infestans can infect Arabidopsis thaliana when another oomycete pathogen, Albugo laibachii, has colonized the host plant. The behaviour and speed of P. infestans infection in Arabidopsis pre-infected with A. laibachii resemble P. infestans infection of susceptible potato plants. Transcriptional profiling of P. infestans genes during infection revealed a significant overlap in the sets of secreted-protein genes that are induced in P. infestans upon colonization of potato and susceptible Arabidopsis, suggesting major similarities in P. infestans gene expression dynamics on the two plant species. Furthermore, we found haustoria of A. laibachii and P. infestans within the same Arabidopsis cells. This Arabidopsis - A. laibachii - P. infestans tripartite interaction opens up various possibilities to dissect the molecular mechanisms of P. infestans infection and the processes occurring in co-infected Arabidopsis cells.
The plant pathogenic fungus Fusarium oxysporum secretes an effector that is similar to a plant peptide hormone, underscoring the variety of mechanisms that plant pathogens have evolved to tamper with host physiology.
Plant pathogens cause devastating diseases of crop plants and threaten food security in an era of continuous population growth. Annual losses due to fungal and oomycete diseases amount to enough food calories to feed at least half a billion people. Understanding how plant pathogens infect and colonize plants should help to develop disease-resistant crops. It appears that plant pathogens are sophisticated manipulators of their hosts. They secrete effector molecules that alter host biological processes in a variety of ways, generally promoting the pathogen lifestyle. A new study by Masachis, Segorbe and colleagues describes a new mechanism by which plant pathogens interfere with plant physiology. They discovered that the root-infecting fungus F. oxysporum secretes a peptide similar to the plant regulatory peptide RALF (rapid alkalinization factor) to induce host tissue alkalinization and enhance plant colonization. This study demonstrates that in addition to secreting classical plant hormones (or mimics thereof), fungi have also evolved functional homologues of plant peptides to alter host cellular processes.
Understanding how plants and pathogens modulate gene expression during the host-pathogen interaction is key to uncovering the molecular mechanisms that regulate disease progression. Recent advances in sequencing technologies have provided new opportunities to decode the complexity of such interactions. In this study, we used an RNA-based sequencing approach (RNA-seq) to assess the global expression profiles of the wheat yellow rust pathogen Puccinia striiformis f. sp. tritici (PST) and its host during infection.
Plant infection is a complicated process. Upon encountering a plant, pathogenic microorganisms must first adapt to life on the epiphytic surface, and survive long enough to initiate an infection. Responsiveness to the environment is critical throughout infection, with intracellular and community-level signal transduction pathways integrating environmental signals and triggering appropriate responses in the bacterial population. Ultimately, phytopathogens must migrate from the epiphytic surface into the plant tissue using motility and chemotaxis pathways. This migration is coupled to overcoming the physical and chemical barriers to entry into the plant apoplast. Once inside the plant, bacteria use an array of secretion systems to release phytotoxins and protein effectors that fulfil diverse pathogenic functions (Fig. 1)(Phan Tran et al., 2011, Melotto & Kunkel, 2013).
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 slow1, 2, 3. Here we report that the wild, diploid non-tuber-bearing Solanum americanum harbors multiple Rpi genes. We combine resistance (R) gene sequence capture (RenSeq)4 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.
Investigating the origin and dispersal pathways is instrumental to mitigate threats and economic and environmental consequences of invasive crop pathogens. In the case of Puccinia striiformis causing yellow rust on wheat, a number of economically important invasions have been reported, e.g., the spreading of two aggressive and high temperature adapted strains to three continents since 2000. The combination of sequence-characterized amplified region (SCAR) markers, which were developed from two specific AFLP fragments, differentiated the two invasive strains, PstS1 and PstS2 from all other P. striiformis strains investigated at a worldwide level. The application of the SCAR markers on 566 isolates showed that PstS1 was present in East Africa in the early 1980s and then detected in the Americas in 2000 and in Australia in 2002. PstS2 which evolved from PstS1 became widespread in the Middle East and Central Asia. In 2000, PstS2 was detected in Europe, where it never became prevalent. Additional SSR genotyping and virulence phenotyping revealed 10 and six variants, respectively, within PstS1 and PstS2, demonstrating the evolutionary potential of the pathogen. Overall, the results suggested East Africa as the most plausible origin of the two invasive strains. The SCAR markers developed in the present study provide a rapid, inexpensive, and efficient tool to track the distribution of P. striiformis invasive strains, PstS1 and PstS2.
Plants detect conserved molecular patterns of pathogens via cell surface-localized receptors, such as the flagellin receptor kinase FLS2, that initiate effective plant immunity. Activated FLS2 is endocytosed, but the degree to which other receptor kinases exhibit similar spatiotemporal dynamics remains unclear. We show that internalization into a common endosomal pathway after ligand perception is a general phenomenon of the tested receptor kinases, including the danger peptide receptor PEPR1. FLS2 endocytosis is mediated by clathrin and is uncoupled from the regulation of acute pathogen-induced responses, but is involved in steady defenses and contributes to plant immunity against bacterial infection. We propose that clathrin-dependent internalization of ligand-activated receptor kinases into a common endosomal pathway facilitates the responses required for full plant immunity.
Elicitins are structurally conserved extracellular proteins in Phytophthora and Pythium oomycete pathogen species. They were first described in the late 1980s as abundant proteins in Phytophthora culture filtrates that have the capacity to elicit hypersensitive (HR) cell death and disease resistance in tobacco. Later, they became well-established as having features of microbe-associated molecular patterns (MAMPs) and to elicit defences in a variety of plant species. Research on elicitins culminated in the recent cloning of the elicitin response (ELR) cell surface receptor-like protein, from the wild potato Solanum microdontum, which mediates response to a broad range of elicitins. In this review, we provide an overview on elicitins and the plant responses they elicit. We summarize the state of the art by describing what we consider to be the nine most important features of elicitin biology.
Plants recognize pathogen-associated molecular patterns (PAMPs) via cell surface-localized pattern recognition receptors (PRRs), leading to PRR-triggered immunity (PTI). The Arabidopsis cytoplasmic kinase BIK1 is a downstream substrate of several PRR complexes. How plant PTI is negatively regulated is not fully understood. Here, we identify the protein phosphatase PP2C38 as a negative regulator of BIK1 activity and BIK1-mediated immunity. PP2C38 dynamically associates with BIK1, as well as with the PRRs FLS2 and EFR, but not with the co-receptor BAK1. PP2C38 regulates PAMP-induced BIK1 phosphorylation and impairs the phosphorylation of the NADPH oxidase RBOHD by BIK1, leading to reduced oxidative burst and stomatal immunity. Upon PAMP perception, PP2C38 is phosphorylated on serine 77 and dissociates from the FLS2/EFR-BIK1 complexes, enabling full BIK1 activation. Together with our recent work on the control of BIK1 turnover, this study reveals another important regulatory mechanism of this central immune component.
Parasitic plants are a constraint on agriculture worldwide. Cuscuta reflexa is a stem holoparasite that infests most dicotyledonous plants. One exception is tomato, which is resistant to C. reflexa. We discovered that tomato responds to a small peptide factor occurring in Cuscuta spp. with immune responses typically activated after perception of microbe-associated molecular patterns. We identified the cell surface receptor-like protein CUSCUTA RECEPTOR 1 (CuRe1) as essential for the perception of this parasite-associated molecular pattern. CuRe1 is sufficient to confer responsiveness to the Cuscuta factor and increased resistance to parasitic C. reflexa when heterologously expressed in otherwise susceptible host plants. Our findings reveal that plants recognize parasitic plants in a manner similar to perception of microbial pathogens.
CRISPR-Cas is a recent and powerful edition to the molecular toolbox which allows programmable genome editing. It has been used to modify genes in a wide variety of organisms, but only two alga to date. Here we present a methodology to edit the genome of T. pseudonana, a model centric diatom with both ecological significance and high biotechnological potential, using CRISPR-Cas. Results: A single construct wa assembled using Golden Gate cloning. Two sgRNAs were used to introduce a precise 37nt deletion early in the coding region of the urease gene. A high percentage of bi-allelic mutations (≤ 61.5%) were observed in clones with the CRISPR-Cas construct. Growth of bi-allelic mutants in urea led to a significant reduction in growth rate and cell size compared to growth in nitrate. Conclusions: CRISPR-Cas can precisely and efficiently edit the genome of T. pseudonana. The use of Golden Gate cloning to assemble CRISPR-Cas constructs gives additional flexibility to the CRISPR-Cas method and facilitates modifications to target alternative genes or species.
Intracellular NLR (Nucleotide-binding domain and Leucine-rich Repeat-containing) receptors are sensitive monitors that detect pathogen invasion of both plant and animal cells. NLRs confer recognition of diverse molecules associated with pathogen invasion. NLRs must exhibit strict intramolecular controls to avoid harmful ectopic activation in the absence of pathogens. Recent discoveries have elucidated the assembly and structure of oligomeric NLR signalling complexes in animals, and provided insights into how these complexes act as scaffolds for signal transduction. In plants, recent advances have provided novel insights into signalling-competent NLRs, and into the myriad strategies that diverse plant NLRs use to recognise pathogens. Here, we review recent insights into the NLR biology of both animals and plants. By assessing commonalities and differences between kingdoms, we are able to develop a more complete understanding of NLR function.
Plasma membrane-localized pattern recognition receptors (PRRs) such as FLAGELLIN SENSING2 (FLS2), EF-TU RECEPTOR (EFR) and CHITIN ELICITOR RECEPTOR KINASE 1 (CERK1) recognize microbe-associated molecular patterns (MAMPs) to activate pattern-triggered immunity (PTI). A reverse genetics approach on genes responsive to the priming agent beta-aminobutyric acid (BABA) revealed IMPAIRED OOMYCETE SUSCEPTIBILITY1 (IOS1) as a critical PTI player. Arabidopsis thaliana ios1 mutants were hyper-susceptible to Pseudomonas syringae bacteria. Accordingly, ios1 mutants showed defective PTI responses, notably delayed up-regulation of the PTI-marker gene FLG22-INDUCED RECEPTOR-LIKE KINASE1 (FRK1), reduced callose deposition and mitogen-activated protein kinase activation upon MAMP treatment. Moreover, Arabidopsis lines over-expressing IOS1 were more resistant to bacteria and showed a primed PTI response. In vitro pull-down, bimolecular fluorescence complementation, co-immunoprecipitation, and mass spectrometry analyses supported the existence of complexes between the membrane-localized IOS1 and BRASSINOSTEROID INSENSITIVE1-ASSOCIATED KINASE1 (BAK1)-dependent PRRs FLS2 and EFR, as well as with the BAK1-independent PRR CERK1. IOS1 also associated with BAK1 in a ligand-independent manner, and positively regulated FLS2-BAK1 complex formation upon MAMP treatment. In addition, IOS1 was critical for chitin-mediated PTI. Finally, ios1 mutants were defective in BABA-induced resistance and priming. This work reveals IOS1 as a novel regulatory protein of FLS2-, EFR- and CERK1-mediated signaling pathways that primes PTI activation.
Synthetic biology aims to apply engineering principles to the design and modification of biological systems and to the construction of biological parts and devices. The ability to programme cells by providing new instructions written in DNA is a foundational technology of the field. Large-scale de novo DNA synthesis has accelerated synthetic biology by offering custom-made molecules at ever decreasing costs. However, for large fragments and for experiments in which libraries of DNA sequences are assembled in different combinations, assembly in the laboratory is still desirable. Biological assembly standards allow DNA parts, even those from multiple laboratories and experiments, to be assembled together using the same reagents and protocols. The adoption of such standards for plant synthetic biology has been cohesive for the plant science community, facilitating the application of genome editing technologies to plant systems and streamlining progress in large-scale, multi-laboratory bioengineering projects.
A recent study by Kroj et al. (New Phytologist, 2016) surveyed nucleotide binding-leucine rich repeat (NLR) proteins from plant genomes for the presence of extraneous integrated domains that may serve as decoys or sensors for pathogen effectors. They reported that a FAM75 domain of unknown function occurs near the C-terminus of the potato late blight NLR protein R3a. Here, we investigated in detail the domain architecture of the R3a protein, its potato paralog R3b, and their tomato ortholog I2. We conclude that the R3a, R3b, and I2 proteins do not carry additional domains besides the classic NLR modules, and that the FAM75 domain match is likely a false positive among computationally predicted NLR-integrated domains.
Magnaporthe oryzae (anamorph Pyricularia oryzae) is the causal agent of blast disease of Poaceae crops and their wild relatives. To understand the genetic mechanisms that drive host specialization of M. oryzae, we carried out whole genome resequencing of four M. oryzae isolates from rice (Oryza sativa), one from foxtail millet (Setaria italica), three from wild foxtail millet S. viridis, and one isolate each from finger millet (Eleusine coracana), wheat (Triticum aestivum) and oat (Avena sativa), in addition to an isolate of a sister species M. grisea, that infects the wild grass Digitaria sanguinalis.
Asian soybean rust (ASR), caused by the fungus Phakopsora pachyrhizi, is one of the most economically important crop diseases, but is only treatable with fungicides, which are becoming less effective owing to the emergence of fungicide resistance. There are no commercial soybean cultivars with durable resistance to P. pachyrhizi, and although soybean resistance loci have been mapped, no resistance genes have been cloned. We report the cloning of a P. pachyrhizi resistance gene CcRpp1 (Cajanus cajan Resistance against Phakopsora pachyrhizi 1) from pigeonpea (Cajanus cajan) and show that CcRpp1 confers full resistance to P. pachyrhizi in soybean. Our findings show that legume species related to soybean such as pigeonpea, cowpea, common bean and others could provide a valuable and diverse pool of resistance traits for crop improvement.
Wild relatives of domesticated crop species harbor multiple, diverse, disease resistance (R) genes that could be used to engineer sustainable disease control. However, breeding R genes into crop lines often requires long breeding timelines of 5–15 years to break linkage between R genes and deleterious alleles (linkage drag). Further, when R genes are bred one at a time into crop lines, the protection that they confer is often overcome within a few seasons by pathogen evolution1. If several cloned R genes were available, it would be possible to pyramid R genes2 in a crop, which might provide more durable resistance1. We describe a three-step method (MutRenSeq)-that combines chemical mutagenesis with exome capture and sequencing for rapid R gene cloning. We applied MutRenSeq to clone stem rust resistance genes Sr22 and Sr45 from hexaploid bread wheat. MutRenSeq can be applied to other commercially relevant crops and their relatives, including, for example, pea, bean, barley, oat, rye, rice and maize.
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