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1.  Loss of Function in Mlo Orthologs Reduces Susceptibility of Pepper and Tomato to Powdery Mildew Disease Caused by Leveillula taurica 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e70723.
Powdery mildew disease caused by Leveillula taurica is a serious fungal threat to greenhouse tomato and pepper production. In contrast to most powdery mildew species which are epiphytic, L. taurica is an endophytic fungus colonizing the mesophyll tissues of the leaf. In barley, Arabidopsis, tomato and pea, the correct functioning of specific homologues of the plant Mlo gene family has been found to be required for pathogenesis of epiphytic powdery mildew fungi. The aim of this study was to investigate the involvement of the Mlo genes in susceptibility to the endophytic fungus L. taurica. In tomato (Solanum lycopersicum), a loss-of-function mutation in the SlMlo1 gene results in resistance to powdery mildew disease caused by Oidium neolycopersici. When the tomato Slmlo1 mutant was inoculated with L. taurica in this study, it proved to be less susceptible compared to the control, S. lycopersicum cv. Moneymaker. Further, overexpression of SlMlo1 in the tomato Slmlo1 mutant enhanced susceptibility to L. taurica. In pepper, the CaMlo2 gene was isolated by applying a homology-based cloning approach. Compared to the previously identified CaMlo1 gene, the CaMlo2 gene is more similar to SlMlo1 as shown by phylogenetic analysis, and the expression of CaMlo2 is up-regulated at an earlier time point upon L. taurica infection. However, results of virus-induced gene silencing suggest that both CaMlo1 and CaMlo2 may be involved in the susceptibility of pepper to L. taurica. The fact that overexpression of CaMlo2 restored the susceptibility of the tomato Slmlo1 mutant to O. neolycopersici and increased its susceptibility to L. taurica confirmed the role of CaMlo2 acting as a susceptibility factor to different powdery mildews, though the role of CaMlo1 as a co-factor for susceptibility cannot be excluded.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0070723
PMCID: PMC3726601  PMID: 23923019
2.  VpRFP1, a novel C4C4-type RING finger protein gene from Chinese wild Vitis pseudoreticulata, functions as a transcriptional activator in defence response of grapevine 
Journal of Experimental Botany  2011;62(15):5671-5682.
RING finger proteins comprise a large family and play important roles in regulation of growth and development, hormone signalling, and responses to biotic and abiotic stresses in plants. In this study, the identification and functional characterization of a C4C4-type RING finger protein gene from the Chinese wild grapevine Vitis pseudoreticulata (designated VpRFP1) are reported. VpRFP1 was initially identified as an expressed sequence tag (EST) from a cDNA library constructed from leaves of V. pseudoreticulata inoculated with the grapevine powdery mildew Uncinula necator. Sequence analysis of the deduced VpRFP1 protein based on the full-length cDNA revealed an N-terminal nuclear localization signal (NLS) and a C-terminal C4C4-type RING finger motif with the consensus sequence Cys-X2-Cys-X13-Cys-X1-Cys-X4-Cys-X2-Cys-X10-Cys-X2-Cys. Upon inoculation with U. necator, expression of VpRFP1 was rapidly induced to higher levels in mildew-resistant V. pseudoreticulata plants. In contrast, expression of VpRFP1 was down-regulated in mildew-susceptible V. vinifera plants. Western blotting using an antibody raised against VpRFP1 showed that VpRFP1 was also induced to higher levels in V. pseudoreticulata plants at 12–48 hours post-inoculation (hpi). However, there was only slight increase in VpRFP in V. vinifera plants in the same time frame, even though a more significant increase was observed at 96–144 hpi in these plants. Results from transactivation assays in yeast showed that the RING finger motif of VpRFP1 exhibited some activity of transcriptional activation; however, no activity was seen with the full-length VpRFP1. Overexpression of VpRFP1 in Arabidopsis plants was found to enhance resistance to Arabidopsis powdery mildew Golovinomyces cichoracearum, which seemed to be correlated with increased transcript levels of AtPR1 and AtPR2 in the pathogen-infected tissues. In addition, the Arabidopsis transgenic lines showed enhanced resistance to a virulent bacterial pathogen Pseudomonas syringae pv. tomato DC3000. Taken together, the results suggested that VpRFP1 may be a transcriptional activator of defence-related genes in grapevines.
doi:10.1093/jxb/err253
PMCID: PMC3223060  PMID: 21862480
C4C4-type RING finger; Chinese wild Vitis pseudoreticulata; disease resistance; powdery mildew; VpRFP1
3.  Identification of mildew resistance in wild and cultivated Central Asian grape germplasm 
BMC Plant Biology  2013;13:149.
Background
Cultivated grapevines, Vitis vinifera subsp. sativa, evolved from their wild relative, V. vinifera subsp. sylvestris. They were domesticated in Central Asia in the absence of the powdery mildew fungus, Erysiphe necator, which is thought to have originated in North America. However, powdery mildew resistance has previously been discovered in two Central Asian cultivars and in Chinese Vitis species.
Results
A set of 380 unique genotypes were evaluated with data generated from 34 simple sequence repeat (SSR) markers. The set included 306 V. vinifera cultivars, 40 accessions of V. vinifera subsp. sylvestris, and 34 accessions of Vitis species from northern Pakistan, Afghanistan and China. Based on the presence of four SSR alleles previously identified as linked to the powdery mildew resistance locus, Ren1, 10 new mildew resistant genotypes were identified in the test set: eight were V. vinifera cultivars and two were V. vinifera subsp. sylvestris based on flower and seed morphology. Sequence comparison of a 620 bp region that includes the Ren1-linked allele (143 bp) of the co-segregating SSR marker SC8-0071-014, revealed that the ten newly identified genotypes have sequences that are essentially identical to the previously identified mildew resistant V. vinifera cultivars: ‘Kishmish vatkana’ and ‘Karadzhandal’. Kinship analysis determined that three of the newly identified powdery mildew resistant accessions had a relationship with ‘Kishmish vatkana’ and ‘Karadzhandal’, and that six were not related to any other accession in this study set. Clustering procedures assigned accessions into three groups: 1) Chinese species; 2) a mixed group of cultivated and wild V. vinifera; and 3) table grape cultivars, including nine of the powdery mildew resistant accessions. Gene flow was detected among the groups.
Conclusions
This study provides evidence that powdery mildew resistance is present in V. vinifera subsp. sylvestris, the dioecious wild progenitor of the cultivated grape. Four first-degree parent progeny relationships were discovered among the hermaphroditic powdery mildew resistant cultivars, supporting the existence of intentional grape breeding efforts. Although several Chinese grape species are resistant to powdery mildew, no direct genetic link to the resistance found in V. vinifera could be established.
doi:10.1186/1471-2229-13-149
PMCID: PMC3851849  PMID: 24093598
Powdery mildew resistance; Vitis vinifera subsp. sativa; Vitis vinifera subsp. sylvestris; Gene flow
4.  Characterization of the MLO gene family in Rosaceae and gene expression analysis in Malus domestica 
BMC Genomics  2014;15(1):618.
Background
Powdery mildew (PM) is a major fungal disease of thousands of plant species, including many cultivated Rosaceae. PM pathogenesis is associated with up-regulation of MLO genes during early stages of infection, causing down-regulation of plant defense pathways. Specific members of the MLO gene family act as PM-susceptibility genes, as their loss-of-function mutations grant durable and broad-spectrum resistance.
Results
We carried out a genome-wide characterization of the MLO gene family in apple, peach and strawberry, and we isolated apricot MLO homologs through a PCR-approach. Evolutionary relationships between MLO homologs were studied and syntenic blocks constructed. Homologs that are candidates for being PM susceptibility genes were inferred by phylogenetic relationships with functionally characterized MLO genes and, in apple, by monitoring their expression following inoculation with the PM causal pathogen Podosphaera leucotricha.
Conclusions
Genomic tools available for Rosaceae were exploited in order to characterize the MLO gene family. Candidate MLO susceptibility genes were identified. In follow-up studies it can be investigated whether silencing or a loss-of-function mutations in one or more of these candidate genes leads to PM resistance.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1471-2164-15-618) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-15-618
PMCID: PMC4124139  PMID: 25051884
Rosaceae; MLO; Powdery mildew; Malus domestica
5.  Novel induced mlo mutant alleles in combination with site-directed mutagenesis reveal functionally important domains in the heptahelical barley Mlo protein 
BMC Plant Biology  2010;10:31.
Background
Recessively inherited natural and induced mutations in the barley Mlo gene confer durable broad-spectrum resistance against the powdery mildew pathogen, Blumeria graminis f.sp. hordei. Mlo codes for a member of a plant-specific family of polytopic integral membrane proteins with unknown biochemical activity. Resistant barley mlo mutant alleles identify amino acid residues that are critical for Mlo function in the context of powdery mildew susceptibility.
Results
We molecularly analyzed a novel set of induced barley mlo mutants and used site-directed mutagenesis in combination with transient gene expression to unravel novel amino acid residues of functional significance. We integrate these results with previous findings to map functionally important regions of the heptahelical Mlo protein. Our data reveal the second and third cytoplasmic loop as being particularly sensitive to functional impediment by mutational perturbation, suggesting that these regions are critical for the susceptibility-conferring activity of the Mlo protein. In contrast, only mutations in the second but not the third cytoplasmic loop appear to trigger the Endoplasmic Reticulum-localized quality control machinery that ensures the biogenesis of properly folded membrane proteins.
Conclusion
Our findings identify functionally important regions of the polytopic barley Mlo protein and reveal the differential sensitivity of individual protein domains to cellular quality control.
doi:10.1186/1471-2229-10-31
PMCID: PMC2844067  PMID: 20170486
6.  The powdery mildew resistance gene REN1 co-segregates with an NBS-LRR gene cluster in two Central Asian grapevines 
BMC Genetics  2009;10:89.
Background
Grape powdery mildew is caused by the North American native pathogen Erysiphe necator. Eurasian Vitis vinifera varieties were all believed to be susceptible. REN1 is the first resistance gene naturally found in cultivated plants of Vitis vinifera.
Results
REN1 is present in 'Kishmish vatkana' and 'Dzhandzhal kara', two grapevines documented in Central Asia since the 1920's. These cultivars have a second-degree relationship (half sibs, grandparent-grandchild, or avuncular), and share by descent the chromosome on which the resistance allele REN1 is located. The REN1 interval was restricted to 1.4 cM using 38 SSR markers distributed across the locus and the segregation of the resistance phenotype in two progenies of collectively 461 offspring, derived from either resistant parent. The boundary markers delimit a 1.4-Mbp sequence in the PN40024 reference genome, which contains 27 genes with known functions, 2 full-length coiled-coil NBS-LRR genes, and 9 NBS-LRR pseudogenes. In the REN1 locus of PN40024, NBS genes have proliferated through a mixture of segmental duplications, tandem gene duplications, and intragenic recombination between paralogues, indicating that the REN1 locus has been inherently prone to producing genetic variation. Three SSR markers co-segregate with REN1, the outer ones confining the 908-kb array of NBS-LRR genes. Kinship and clustering analyses based on genetic distances with susceptible cultivars representative of Central Asian Vitis vinifera indicated that 'Kishmish vatkana' and 'Dzhandzhal kara' fit well into local germplasm. 'Kishmish vatkana' also has a parent-offspring relationship with the seedless table grape 'Sultanina'. In addition, the distant genetic relatedness to rootstocks, some of which are derived from North American species resistant to powdery mildew and have been used worldwide to guard against phylloxera since the late 1800's, argues against REN1 being infused into Vitis vinifera from a recent interspecific hybridisation.
Conclusion
The REN1 gene resides in an NBS-LRR gene cluster tightly delimited by two flanking SSR markers, which can assist in the selection of this DNA block in breeding between Vitis vinifera cultivars. The REN1 locus has multiple layers of structural complexity compared with its two closely related paralogous NBS clusters, which are located some 5 Mbp upstream and 4 Mbp downstream of the REN1 interval on the same chromosome.
doi:10.1186/1471-2156-10-89
PMCID: PMC2814809  PMID: 20042081
7.  Differential disease resistance response in the barley necrotic mutant nec1 
BMC Plant Biology  2011;11:66.
Background
Although ion fluxes are considered to be an integral part of signal transduction during responses to pathogens, only a few ion channels are known to participate in the plant response to infection. CNGC4 is a disease resistance-related cyclic nucleotide-gated ion channel. Arabidopsis thaliana CNGC4 mutants hlm1 and dnd2 display an impaired hypersensitive response (HR), retarded growth, a constitutively active salicylic acid (SA)-mediated pathogenesis-related response and elevated resistance against bacterial pathogens. Barley CNGC4 shares 67% aa identity with AtCNGC4. The barley mutant nec1 comprising of a frame-shift mutation of CNGC4 displays a necrotic phenotype and constitutively over-expresses PR-1, yet it is not known what effect the nec1 mutation has on barley resistance against different types of pathogens.
Results
nec1 mutant accumulated high amount of SA and hydrogen peroxide compared to parental cv. Parkland. Experiments investigating nec1 disease resistance demonstrated positive effect of nec1 mutation on non-host resistance against Pseudomonas syringae pv. tomato (Pst) at high inoculum density, whereas at normal Pst inoculum concentration nec1 resistance did not differ from wt. In contrast to augmented P. syringae resistance, penetration resistance against biotrophic fungus Blumeria graminis f. sp. hordei (Bgh), the causal agent of powdery mildew, was not altered in nec1. The nec1 mutant significantly over-expressed race non-specific Bgh resistance-related genes BI-1 and MLO. Induction of BI-1 and MLO suggested putative involvement of nec1 in race non-specific Bgh resistance, therefore the effect of nec1on mlo-5-mediated Bgh resistance was assessed. The nec1/mlo-5 double mutant was as resistant to Bgh as Nec1/mlo-5 plants, suggesting that nec1 did not impair mlo-5 race non-specific Bgh resistance.
Conclusions
Together, the results suggest that nec1 mutation alters activation of systemic acquired resistance-related physiological markers and non-host resistance in barley, while not changing rapid localized response during compatible interaction with host pathogen. Increased resistance of nec1 against non-host pathogen Pst suggests that nec1 mutation may affect certain aspects of barley disease resistance, while it remains to be determined, if the effect on disease resistance is a direct response to changes in SA signaling.
doi:10.1186/1471-2229-11-66
PMCID: PMC3089796  PMID: 21496226
8.  Evolution and expression analysis of the grape (Vitis vinifera L.) WRKY gene family 
Journal of Experimental Botany  2014;65(6):1513-1528.
Summary
Fifty-nine VvWRKY genes were identified. Phylogenetic tree and synteny analysis revealed the specific evolutionary relationship of these genes. Meanwhile, differential expression patterns indicated their possible roles in specific tissues and under different stresses.
WRKY proteins comprise a large family of transcription factors that play important roles in plant defence regulatory networks, including responses to various biotic and abiotic stresses. To date, no large-scale study of WRKY genes has been undertaken in grape (Vitis vinifera L.). In this study, a total of 59 putative grape WRKY genes (VvWRKY) were identified and renamed on the basis of their respective chromosome distribution. A multiple sequence alignment analysis using all predicted grape WRKY genes coding sequences, together with those from Arabidopsis thaliana and tomato (Solanum lycopersicum), indicated that the 59 VvWRKY genes can be classified into three main groups (I–III). An evaluation of the duplication events suggested that several WRKY genes arose before the divergence of the grape and Arabidopsis lineages. Moreover, expression profiles derived from semiquantitative PCR and real-time quantitative PCR analyses showed distinct expression patterns in various tissues and in response to different treatments. Four VvWRKY genes showed a significantly higher expression in roots or leaves, 55 responded to varying degrees to at least one abiotic stress treatment, and the expression of 38 were altered following powdery mildew (Erysiphe necator) infection. Most VvWRKY genes were downregulated in response to abscisic acid or salicylic acid treatments, while the expression of a subset was upregulated by methyl jasmonate or ethylene treatments.
doi:10.1093/jxb/eru007
PMCID: PMC3967086  PMID: 24510937
Evolution; expression profile analysis; grape (Vitis vinifera L.); phylogenetic analysis; synteny analysis; WRKY genes.
9.  Isolation, Molecular Characterization, and Mapping of Four Rose MLO Orthologs 
Powdery mildew is a major disease of economic importance in cut and pot roses. As an alternative to conventional resistance breeding strategies utilizing single-dominant genes or QTLs, mildew resistance locus o (MLO)-based resistance might offer some advantages. In dicots such as Arabidopsis, pea, and tomato, loss-of-function mutations in MLO genes confer high levels of broad-spectrum resistance. Here, we report the isolation and characterization of four MLO homologs from a large rose EST collection isolated from leaves. These genes are phylogenetically closely related to other dicot MLO genes that are involved in plant powdery mildew interactions. Therefore, they are candidates for MLO genes involved in rose powdery mildew interactions. Two of the four isolated genes contain all of the sequence signatures considered to be diagnostic for MLO genes. We mapped all four genes to three linkage groups and conducted the first analysis of alternative alleles. This information is discussed in regards to a reverse genetics approach aimed at the selection of rose plants that are homozygous for loss-of-function in one or more MLO genes.
doi:10.3389/fpls.2012.00244
PMCID: PMC3487107  PMID: 23130018
powdery mildew; mildew resistance locus o; Podosphaera pannosa; rosaceae; tetraploid
10.  Using a limited mapping strategy to identify major QTLs for resistance to grapevine powdery mildew (Erysiphe necator) and their use in marker-assisted breeding 
A limited genetic mapping strategy based on simple sequence repeat (SSR) marker data was used with five grape populations segregating for powdery mildew (Erysiphe necator) resistance in an effort to develop genetic markers from multiple sources and enable the pyramiding of resistance loci. Three populations derived their resistance from Muscadinia rotundifolia ‘Magnolia’. The first population (06708) had 97 progeny and was screened with 137 SSR markers from seven chromosomes (4, 7, 9, 12, 13, 15, and 18) that have been reported to be associated with powdery or downy mildew resistance. A genetic map was constructed using the pseudo-testcross strategy and QTL analysis was carried out. Only markers from chromosome 13 and 18 were mapped in the second (04327) and third (06712) populations, which had 47 and 80 progeny, respectively. Significant QTLs for powdery mildew resistance with overlapping genomic regions were identified for different tissue types (leaf, stem, rachis, and berry) on chromosome 18, which distinguishes the resistance in ‘Magnolia’ from that present in other accessions of M. rotundifolia and controlled by the Run1 gene on chromosome 12. The ‘Magnolia’ resistance locus was termed as Run2.1. Powdery mildew resistance was also mapped in a fourth population (08391), which had 255 progeny and resistance from M. rotundifolia ‘Trayshed’. A locus accounting for 50% of the phenotypic variation mapped to chromosome 18 and was named Run2.2. This locus overlapped the region found in the ‘Magnolia’-based populations, but the allele sizes of the flanking markers were different. ‘Trayshed’ and ‘Magnolia’ shared at least one allele for 68% of the tested markers, but alleles of the other 32% of the markers were not shared indicating that the two M. rotundifolia selections were very different. The last population, 08306 with 42 progeny, derived its resistance from a selection Vitis romanetii C166-043. Genetic mapping discovered a major powdery mildew resistance locus termed Ren4 on chromosome 18, which explained 70% of the phenotypic variation in the same region of chromosome 18 found in the two M. rotundifolia resistant accessions. The mapping results indicate that powdery mildew resistance genes from different backgrounds reside on chromosome 18, and that genetic markers can be used as a powerful tool to pyramid these loci and other powdery mildew resistance loci into a single line.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00122-010-1511-6) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1007/s00122-010-1511-6
PMCID: PMC3056998  PMID: 21188350
11.  A trade off between mlo resistance to powdery mildew and increased susceptibility of barley to a newly important disease, Ramularia leaf spot 
Journal of Experimental Botany  2014;65(4):1025-1037.
Ramularia leaf spot (RLS), caused by the fungus Ramularia collo-cygni, is a serious, recently emerged disease of barley in Europe and other temperate regions. This study investigated the trade off between strong resistance to powdery mildew conferred by mlo mutant alleles and increased susceptibility to RLS. In field trials and seedling tests, the presence of mlo alleles increased severity of RLS. Genetic analysis of a doubled-haploid population identified one quantitative trait locus for susceptibility to RLS, colocalizing with the mlo-11 allele for mildew resistance. The effect of mlo-11 on RLS severity was environmentally sensitive. Analysis of near-isogenic lines of different mlo mutations in various genetic backgrounds confirmed that mlo alleles increased RLS severity in seedlings and adult plants. For mlo resistance to mildew to be fully effective, the genes ROR1 and ROR2 are required. RLS symptoms were significantly reduced on mlo-5 ror double mutants but fungal DNA levels remained as high as in mlo-5 single mutants, implying that ror alleles modify the transition of the fungus from endophytism to necrotrophy. These results indicate that the widespread use of mlo resistance to control mildew may have inadvertently stimulated the emergence of RLS as a major disease of barley.
doi:10.1093/jxb/ert452
PMCID: PMC3935564  PMID: 24399175
Biotrophic pathogens; Blumeria graminis; disease resistance; Hordeum vulgare; necrotrophic pathogens; plant breeding; Ramularia collo-cygni; ROR genes.
12.  Identification of the dehydrin gene family from grapevine species and analysis of their responsiveness to various forms of abiotic and biotic stress 
BMC Plant Biology  2012;12:140.
Background
Dehydrins (DHNs) protect plant cells from desiccation damage during environmental stress, and also participate in host resistance to various pathogens. In this study, we aimed to identify and characterize the DHN gene families from Vitis vinifera and wild V. yeshanensis, which is tolerant to both drought and cold, and moderately resistant to powdery mildew.
Results
Four DHN genes were identified in both V. vinifera and V. yeshanensis, which shared a high sequence identity between the two species but little homology between the genes themselves. These genes were designated DHN1, DHN2, DHN3 and DHN4. All four of the DHN proteins were highly hydrophilic and were predicted to be intrinsically disordered, but they differed in their isoelectric points, kinase selectivities and number of functional motifs. Also, the expression profiles of each gene differed appreciably from one another. Grapevine DHN1 was not expressed in vegetative tissues under normal growth conditions, but was induced by drought, cold, heat, embryogenesis, as well as the application of abscisic acid (ABA), salicylic acid (SA), and methyl jasmonate (MeJA). It was expressed earlier in V. yeshanensis under drought conditions than in V. vinifera, and also exhibited a second round of up-regulation in V. yeshanensis following inoculation with Erysiphe necator, which was not apparent in V. vinifera. Like DHN1, DHN2 was induced by cold, heat, embryogenesis and ABA; however, it exhibited no responsiveness to drought, E. necator infection, SA or MeJA, and was also expressed constitutively in vegetative tissues under normal growth conditions. Conversely, DHN3 was only expressed during seed development at extremely low levels, and DHN4 was expressed specifically during late embryogenesis. Neither DHN3 nor DHN4 exhibited responsiveness to any of the treatments carried out in this study. Interestingly, the presence of particular cis-elements within the promoter regions of each gene was positively correlated with their expression profiles.
Conclusions
The grapevine DHN family comprises four divergent members. While it is likely that their functions overlap to some extent, it seems that DHN1 provides the main stress-responsive function. In addition, our results suggest a close relationship between expression patterns, physicochemical properties, and cis-regulatory elements in the promoter regions of the DHN genes.
doi:10.1186/1471-2229-12-140
PMCID: PMC3460772  PMID: 22882870
Grapevine; Dehydrin; Stress-induced expression; Powdery mildew; Promoter
13.  A transcriptomic study of grapevine (Vitis vinifera cv. Cabernet-Sauvignon) interaction with the vascular ascomycete fungus Eutypa lata 
Journal of Experimental Botany  2010;61(6):1719-1737.
Eutypa dieback is a vascular disease that may severely affect vineyards throughout the world. In the present work, microarrays were made in order (i) to improve our knowledge of grapevine (Vitis vinifera cv. Cabernet-Sauvignon) responses to Eutypa lata, the causal agent of Eutypa dieback; and (ii) to identify genes that may prevent symptom development. Qiagen/Operon grapevine microarrays comprising 14 500 probes were used to compare, under three experimental conditions (in vitro, in the greenhouse, and in the vineyard), foliar material of infected symptomatic plants (S+R+), infected asymptomatic plants (S–R+), and healthy plants (S–R–). These plants were characterized by symptom notation after natural (vineyard) or experimental (in vitro and greenhouse) infection, re-isolation of the fungus located in the lignified parts, and the formal identification of E. lata mycelium by PCR. Semi-quantitative real-time PCR experiments were run to confirm the expression of some genes of interest in response to E. lata. Their expression profiles were also studied in response to other grapevine pathogens (Erysiphe necator, Plasmopara viticola, and Botrytis cinerea). (i) Five functional categories of genes, that is those involved in metabolism, defence reactions, interaction with the environment, transport, and transcription, were up-regulated in S+R+ plants compared with S–R– plants. These genes, which cannot prevent infection and symptom development, are not specific since they were also up-regulated after infection by powdery mildew, downy mildew, and black rot. (ii) Most of the genes that may prevent symptom development are associated with the light phase of photosynthesis. This finding is discussed in the context of previous data on the mode of action of eutypin and the polypeptide fraction secreted by Eutypa.
doi:10.1093/jxb/erq040
PMCID: PMC2852663  PMID: 20190040
Eutypa dieback; Eutypa lata; grapevine; microarrays; transcriptome; Vitis vinifera
14.  Rapid quantification of plant-powdery mildew interactions by qPCR and conidiospore counts 
Plant Methods  2012;8:35.
Background
The powdery mildew disease represents a valuable patho-system to study the interaction between plant hosts and obligate biotrophic fungal pathogens. Numerous discoveries have been made on the basis of the quantitative evaluation of plant-powdery mildew interactions, especially in the context of hyper-susceptible and/or resistant plant mutants. However, the presently available methods to score the pathogenic success of powdery mildew fungi are laborious and thus not well suited for medium- to high-throughput analysis.
Results
Here we present two new protocols that allow the rapid quantitative assessment of powdery mildew disease development. One procedure depends on quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR)-based evaluation of fungal biomass, while the other relies on the quantification of fungal conidiospores. We validated both techniques using the powdery mildew pathogen Golovinomyces orontii on a set of hyper-susceptible and resistant Arabidopsis thaliana mutants and found that both cover a wide dynamic range of one to two (qPCR) and four to five (quantification of conidia) orders of magnitude, respectively. The two approaches yield reproducible results and are easy to perform without specialized equipment.
Conclusions
The qPCR and spore count assays rapidly and reproducibly quantify powdery mildew pathogenesis. Our methods are performed at later stages of infection and discern mutant phenotypes accurately. The assays therefore complement currently used procedures of powdery mildew quantification and can overcome some of their limitations. In addition, they can easily be adapted to other plant-powdery mildew patho-systems.
doi:10.1186/1746-4811-8-35
PMCID: PMC3522566  PMID: 22937820
Arabidopsis thaliana; Conidiospores; Golovinomyces orontii; Powdery mildew; Quantification; qPCR
15.  Adaptive genomic structural variation in the grape powdery mildew pathogen, Erysiphe necator 
BMC Genomics  2014;15(1):1081.
Background
Powdery mildew, caused by the obligate biotrophic fungus Erysiphe necator, is an economically important disease of grapevines worldwide. Large quantities of fungicides are used for its control, accelerating the incidence of fungicide-resistance. Copy number variations (CNVs) are unbalanced changes in the structure of the genome that have been associated with complex traits. In addition to providing the first description of the large and highly repetitive genome of E. necator, this study describes the impact of genomic structural variation on fungicide resistance in Erysiphe necator.
Results
A shotgun approach was applied to sequence and assemble the genome of five E. necator isolates, and RNA-seq and comparative genomics were used to predict and annotate protein-coding genes. Our results show that the E. necator genome is exceptionally large and repetitive and suggest that transposable elements are responsible for genome expansion. Frequent structural variations were found between isolates and included copy number variation in EnCYP51, the target of the commonly used sterol demethylase inhibitor (DMI) fungicides. A panel of 89 additional E. necator isolates collected from diverse vineyard sites was screened for copy number variation in the EnCYP51 gene and for presence/absence of a point mutation (Y136F) known to result in higher fungicide tolerance. We show that an increase in EnCYP51 copy number is significantly more likely to be detected in isolates collected from fungicide-treated vineyards. Increased EnCYP51 copy numbers were detected with the Y136F allele, suggesting that an increase in copy number becomes advantageous only after the fungicide-tolerant allele is acquired. We also show that EnCYP51 copy number influences expression in a gene-dose dependent manner and correlates with fungal growth in the presence of a DMI fungicide.
Conclusions
Taken together our results show that CNV can be adaptive in the development of resistance to fungicides by providing increasing quantitative protection in a gene-dosage dependent manner. The results of this work not only demonstrate the effectiveness of using genomics to dissect complex traits in organisms with very limited molecular information, but also may have broader implications for understanding genomic dynamics in response to strong selective pressure in other pathogens with similar genome architectures.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1471-2164-15-1081) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-15-1081
PMCID: PMC4298948  PMID: 25487071
Fungal genomics; Copy number variation; Genetic adaptation; Fungicide resistance; Cytochrome p450; CYP51
16.  Genome-wide identification and analysis of mitogen activated protein kinase kinase kinase gene family in grapevine (Vitis vinifera) 
BMC Plant Biology  2014;14(1):219.
Background
Mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase kinases (MAPKKKs; MAP3Ks) are important components of MAPK cascades, which are highly conserved signal transduction pathways in animals, yeast and plants, play important roles in plant growth and development. MAPKKKs have been investigated on their evolution and expression patterns in limited plants including Arabidopsis, rice and maize.
Results
In this study, we performed a genome-wide survey and identified 45 MAPKKK genes in the grapevine genome. Chromosome location, phylogeny, gene structure and conserved protein motifs of MAPKKK family in grapevine have been analyzed to support the prediction of these genes. In the phylogenetic analysis, MAPKKK genes of grapevine have been classified into three subgroups as described for Arabidopsis, named MEKK, ZIK and RAF, also confirmed in grapevine by the analysis of conserved motifs and exon-intron organizations. By analyzing expression profiles of MAPKKK genes in grapevine microarray databases, we highlighted the modulation of different MAPKKKs in different organs and distinct developmental stages. Furthermore, we experimentally investigated the expression profiles of 45 grape MAPKKK genes in response to biotic (powdery mildew) and abiotic stress (drought), as well as to hormone (salicylic acid, ethylene) and hydrogen peroxide treatments, and identified several candidate MAPKKK genes that might play an important role in biotic and abiotic responses in grapevine, for further functional characterization.
Conclusions
This is the first comprehensive experimental survey of the grapevine MAPKKK gene family, which provides insights into their potential roles in regulating responses to biotic and abiotic stresses, and the evolutionary expansion of MAPKKKs is associated with the diverse requirement in transducing external and internal signals into intracellular actions in MAPK cascade in grapevine.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12870-014-0219-1) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s12870-014-0219-1
PMCID: PMC4243721  PMID: 25158790
Grapevine; Mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase kinase (MAPKKK); Gene family; Phylogenetic analysis; Expression analysis; Stresses
17.  Endoplasmic reticulum KDEL-tailed cysteine endopeptidase 1 of Arabidopsis (AtCEP1) is involved in pathogen defense 
Programmed cell death (PCD) is a genetically determined process in all multicellular organisms. Plant PCD is effected by a unique group of papain-type cysteine endopeptidases (CysEP) with a C-terminal KDEL endoplasmic reticulum (ER) retention signal (KDEL CysEP). KDEL CysEPs can be stored as pro-enzymes in ER-derived endomembrane compartments and are released as mature CysEPs in the final stages of organelle disintegration. KDEL CysEPs accept a wide variety of amino acids at the active site, including the glycosylated hydroxyprolines of the extensins that form the basic scaffold of the cell wall. In Arabidopsis, three KDEL CysEPs (AtCEP1, AtCEP2, and AtCEP3) are expressed. Cell- and tissue-specific activities of these three genes suggest that KDEL CysEPs participate in the abscission of flower organs and in the collapse of tissues in the final stage of PCD as well as in developmental tissue remodeling. We observed that AtCEP1 is expressed in response to biotic stress stimuli in the leaf. atcep1 knockout mutants showed enhanced susceptibility to powdery mildew caused by the biotrophic ascomycete Erysiphe cruciferarum. A translational fusion protein of AtCEP1 with a three-fold hemaglutinin-tag and the green fluorescent protein under control of the endogenous AtCEP1 promoter (PCEP1::pre-pro-3xHA-EGFP-AtCEP1-KDEL) rescued the pathogenesis phenotype demonstrating the function of AtCEP1 in restriction of powdery mildew. The spatiotemporal AtCEP1-reporter expression during fungal infection together with microscopic inspection of the interaction phenotype suggested a function of AtCEP1 in controlling late stages of compatible interaction including late epidermal cell death. Additionally, expression of stress response genes appeared to be deregulated in the interaction of atcep1 mutants and E. cruciferarum. Possible functions of AtCEP1 in restricting parasitic success of the obligate biotrophic powdery mildew fungus are discussed.
doi:10.3389/fpls.2014.00058
PMCID: PMC3932416  PMID: 24605116
programmed cell death; plant immunity; sporulation; haustorium; cell wall
18.  The Powdery Mildew Disease of Arabidopsis: A Paradigm for the Interaction between Plants and Biotrophic Fungi 
The powdery mildew diseases, caused by fungal species of the Erysiphales, have an important economic impact on a variety of plant species and have driven basic and applied research efforts in the field of phytopathology for many years. Although the first taxonomic reports on the Erysiphales date back to the 1850's, advances into the molecular biology of these fungal species have been hampered by their obligate biotrophic nature and difficulties associated with their cultivation and genetic manipulation in the laboratory. The discovery in the 1990's of a few species of powdery mildew fungi that cause disease on Arabidopsis has opened a new chapter in this research field. The great advantages of working with a model plant species have translated into remarkable progress in our understanding of these complex pathogens and their interaction with the plant host. Herein we summarize advances in the study of Arabidopsis-powdery mildew interactions and discuss their implications for the general field of plant pathology. We provide an overview of the life cycle of the pathogens on Arabidopsis and describe the structural and functional changes that occur during infection in the host and fungus in compatible and incompatible interactions, with special emphasis on defense signaling, resistance pathways, and compatibility factors. Finally, we discuss the future of powdery mildew research in anticipation of the sequencing of multiple powdery mildew genomes. The cumulative body of knowledge on powdery mildews of Arabidopsis provides a valuable tool for the study and understanding of disease associated with many other obligate biotrophic pathogen species.
doi:10.1199/tab.0115
PMCID: PMC3243333  PMID: 22303240
19.  Gene Gain and Loss during Evolution of Obligate Parasitism in the White Rust Pathogen of Arabidopsis thaliana 
PLoS Biology  2011;9(7):e1001094.
Biotrophic eukaryotic plant pathogens require a living host for their growth and form an intimate haustorial interface with parasitized cells. Evolution to biotrophy occurred independently in fungal rusts and powdery mildews, and in oomycete white rusts and downy mildews. Biotroph evolution and molecular mechanisms of biotrophy are poorly understood. It has been proposed, but not shown, that obligate biotrophy results from (i) reduced selection for maintenance of biosynthetic pathways and (ii) gain of mechanisms to evade host recognition or suppress host defence. Here we use Illumina sequencing to define the genome, transcriptome, and gene models for the obligate biotroph oomycete and Arabidopsis parasite, Albugo laibachii. A. laibachii is a member of the Chromalveolata, which incorporates Heterokonts (containing the oomycetes), Apicomplexa (which includes human parasites like Plasmodium falciparum and Toxoplasma gondii), and four other taxa. From comparisons with other oomycete plant pathogens and other chromalveolates, we reveal independent loss of molybdenum-cofactor-requiring enzymes in downy mildews, white rusts, and the malaria parasite P. falciparum. Biotrophy also requires “effectors” to suppress host defence; we reveal RXLR and Crinkler effectors shared with other oomycetes, and also discover and verify a novel class of effectors, the “CHXCs”, by showing effector delivery and effector functionality. Our findings suggest that evolution to progressively more intimate association between host and parasite results in reduced selection for retention of certain biosynthetic pathways, and particularly reduced selection for retention of molybdopterin-requiring biosynthetic pathways. These mechanisms are not only relevant to plant pathogenic oomycetes but also to human pathogens within the Chromalveolata.
Author Summary
Plant pathogens that cannot grow except on their hosts are called obligate biotrophs. How such biotrophy evolves is poorly understood. In this study, we sequenced the genome of the obligate biotroph white rust pathogen (Albugo laibachii, Oomycota) of Arabidopsis. From comparisons with other oomycete plant pathogens, diatoms, and the human pathogen Plasmodium falciparum, we reveal a loss of important metabolic enzymes. We also reveal the appearance of defence-suppressing “effectors”, some carrying motifs known from other oomycete effectors, and discover and experimentally verify a novel class of effectors that share a CHXC motif within 50 amino acids of the signal peptide cleavage site. Obligate biotrophy involves an intimate association within host cells at the haustorial interface (where the parasite penetrates the host cell's cell wall), where nutrients are acquired from the host and effectors are delivered to the host. We found that A. laibachii, like Hyaloperonospora arabidopsidis and Plasmodium falciparum, lacks molybdopterin-requiring biosynthetic pathways, suggesting relaxed selection for retention of, or even selection against, this pathway. We propose that when defence suppression becomes sufficiently effective, hosts become such a reliable source of nutrients that a free-living phase can be lost. These mechanisms leading to obligate biotrophy and host specificity are relevant not only to plant pathogenic oomycetes but also to human pathogens.
doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.1001094
PMCID: PMC3130010  PMID: 21750662
20.  Phylogeography and population structure of the grape powdery mildew fungus, Erysiphe necator, from diverse Vitis species 
Background
The grape powdery mildew fungus, Erysiphe necator, was introduced into Europe more than 160 years ago and is now distributed everywhere that grapes are grown. To understand the invasion history of this pathogen we investigated the evolutionary relationships between introduced populations of Europe, Australia and the western United States (US) and populations in the eastern US, where E. necator is thought to be native. Additionally, we tested the hypothesis that populations of E. necator in the eastern US are structured based on geography and Vitis host species.
Results
We sequenced three nuclear gene regions covering 1803 nucleotides from 146 isolates of E. necator collected from the eastern US, Europe, Australia, and the western US. Phylogeographic analyses show that the two genetic groups in Europe represent two separate introductions and that the genetic groups may be derived from eastern US ancestors. Populations from the western US and Europe share haplotypes, suggesting that the western US population was introduced from Europe. Populations in Australia are derived from European populations. Haplotype richness and nucleotide diversity were significantly greater in the eastern US populations than in the introduced populations. Populations within the eastern US are geographically differentiated; however, no structure was detected with respect to host habitat (i.e., wild or cultivated). Populations from muscadine grapes, V. rotundifolia, are genetically distinct from populations from other Vitis host species, yet no differentiation was detected among populations from other Vitis species.
Conclusions
Multilocus sequencing analysis of the grape powdery mildew fungus is consistent with the hypothesis that populations in Europe, Australia and the western US are derived from two separate introductions and their ancestors were likely from native populations in the eastern US. The invasion history of E. necator follows a pattern consistent with plant-mediated dispersal, however, more exhaustive sampling is required to make more precise conclusions as to origin. E. necator shows no genetic structure across Vitis host species, except with respect to V. rotundifolia.
doi:10.1186/1471-2148-10-268
PMCID: PMC2941690  PMID: 20809968
21.  LIFEGUARD proteins support plant colonization by biotrophic powdery mildew fungi 
Journal of Experimental Botany  2013;64(12):3855-3867.
Pathogenic microbes manipulate eukaryotic cells during invasion and target plant proteins to achieve host susceptibility. BAX INHIBITOR-1 (BI-1) is an endoplasmic reticulum-resident cell death suppressor in plants and animals and is required for full susceptibility of barley to the barley powdery mildew fungus Blumeria graminis f.sp. hordei. LIFEGUARD (LFG) proteins resemble BI-1 proteins in terms of predicted membrane topology and cell-death-inhibiting function in metazoans, but display clear sequence-specific distinctions. This work shows that barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) and Arabidopsis thaliana genomes harbour five LFG genes, HvLFGa–HvLFGe and AtLFG1–AtLFG5, whose functions are largely uncharacterized. As observed for HvBI-1, single-cell overexpression of HvLFGa supports penetration success of B. graminis f.sp. hordei into barley epidermal cells, while transient-induced gene silencing restricts it. In penetrated barley epidermal cells, a green fluorescent protein-tagged HvLFGa protein accumulates at the site of fungal entry, around fungal haustoria and in endosomal or vacuolar membranes. The data further suggest a role of LFG proteins in plant–powdery mildew interactions in both monocot and dicot plants, because stable overexpression or knockdown of AtLFG1 or AtLFG2 also support or delay development of the powdery mildew fungus Erysiphe cruciferarum on the respective Arabidopsis mutants. Together, this work has identified new modulators of plant–powdery mildew interactions, and the data further support functional similarities between BI-1 and LFG proteins beyond cell death regulation.
doi:10.1093/jxb/ert217
PMCID: PMC3745739  PMID: 23888068
Arabidopsis thaliana; haustorial complex; Hordeum vulgare; powdery mildew fungus; programmed cell death; susceptibility.
22.  Structure and evolution of barley powdery mildew effector candidates 
BMC Genomics  2012;13:694.
Background
Protein effectors of pathogenicity are instrumental in modulating host immunity and disease resistance. The powdery mildew pathogen of grasses Blumeria graminis causes one of the most important diseases of cereal crops. B. graminis is an obligate biotrophic pathogen and as such has an absolute requirement to suppress or avoid host immunity if it is to survive and cause disease.
Results
Here we characterise a superfamily predicted to be the full complement of Candidates for Secreted Effector Proteins (CSEPs) in the fungal barley powdery mildew parasite B. graminis f.sp. hordei. The 491 genes encoding these proteins constitute over 7% of this pathogen’s annotated genes and most were grouped into 72 families of up to 59 members. They were predominantly expressed in the intracellular feeding structures called haustoria, and proteins specifically associated with the haustoria were identified by large-scale mass spectrometry-based proteomics. There are two major types of effector families: one comprises shorter proteins (100–150 amino acids), with a high relative expression level in the haustoria and evidence of extensive diversifying selection between paralogs; the second type consists of longer proteins (300–400 amino acids), with lower levels of differential expression and evidence of purifying selection between paralogs. An analysis of the predicted protein structures underscores their overall similarity to known fungal effectors, but also highlights unexpected structural affinities to ribonucleases throughout the entire effector super-family. Candidate effector genes belonging to the same family are loosely clustered in the genome and are associated with repetitive DNA derived from retro-transposons.
Conclusions
We employed the full complement of genomic, transcriptomic and proteomic analyses as well as structural prediction methods to identify and characterize the members of the CSEPs superfamily in B. graminis f.sp. hordei. Based on relative intron position and the distribution of CSEPs with a ribonuclease-like domain in the phylogenetic tree we hypothesize that the associated genes originated from an ancestral gene, encoding a secreted ribonuclease, duplicated successively by repetitive DNA-driven processes and diversified during the evolution of the grass and cereal powdery mildew lineage.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-13-694
PMCID: PMC3582587  PMID: 23231440
Host-pathogen interactions; Effector protein structure; Fungal proteomics; Proteogenomics
23.  ROPGAPs of Arabidopsis limit susceptibility to powdery mildew 
Plant Signaling & Behavior  2011;6(11):1691-1694.
The barley ROP GTPase HvRACB is a susceptibility factor of barley to powdery mildew caused by the biotrophic fungus Blumeria graminis f.sp. hordei (Bgh). In a recent publication, we reported about a MICROTUBULE-ASSOCIATED ROP GTPASE-ACTIVATING PROTEIN 1 (HvMAGAP1) of barley. Transient-induced gene silencing or overexpression of HvMAGAP1 resulted in enhanced or reduced susceptibility to Bgh, respectively, indicating a possible HvRACB-antagonistic function of HvMAGAP1 in interaction with Bgh. HvMAGAP1 also influences the polarity of cortical microtubules in interaction with Bgh. In AtROPGAP1 and AtROPGAP4, Arabidopsis homologs of HvMAGAP1, knock-out T-DNA insertions enhanced susceptibility of Arabidopsis to the virulent powdery mildew fungus Erysiphe cruciferarum, indicating functions of ROPGAPs in pathogen interaction of monocots and dicots. Here we discuss the role of AtROPGAP1 and AtROPGAP4 in Arabidopsis pathogenesis of powdery mildew in some more detail.
doi:10.4161/psb.6.11.17943
PMCID: PMC3329338  PMID: 22067988
Erysiphe cruciferarum; Arabidopsis; compatibility; polarity; RHO; RHOGAP
24.  A high-throughput screening system for barley/powdery mildew interactions based on automated analysis of light micrographs 
BMC Plant Biology  2008;8:6.
Background
To find candidate genes that potentially influence the susceptibility or resistance of crop plants to powdery mildew fungi, an assay system based on transient-induced gene silencing (TIGS) as well as transient over-expression in single epidermal cells of barley has been developed. However, this system relies on quantitative microscopic analysis of the barley/powdery mildew interaction and will only become a high-throughput tool of phenomics upon automation of the most time-consuming steps.
Results
We have developed a high-throughput screening system based on a motorized microscope which evaluates the specimens fully automatically. A large-scale double-blind verification of the system showed an excellent agreement of manual and automated analysis and proved the system to work dependably. Furthermore, in a series of bombardment experiments an RNAi construct targeting the Mlo gene was included, which is expected to phenocopy resistance mediated by recessive loss-of-function alleles such as mlo5. In most cases, the automated analysis system recorded a shift towards resistance upon RNAi of Mlo, thus providing proof of concept for its usefulness in detecting gene-target effects.
Conclusion
Besides saving labor and enabling a screening of thousands of candidate genes, this system offers continuous operation of expensive laboratory equipment and provides a less subjective analysis as well as a complete and enduring documentation of the experimental raw data in terms of digital images. In general, it proves the concept of enabling available microscope hardware to handle challenging screening tasks fully automatically.
doi:10.1186/1471-2229-8-6
PMCID: PMC2262080  PMID: 18215267
25.  Characterization of Vitis vinifera NPR1 homologs involved in the regulation of Pathogenesis-Related gene expression 
BMC Plant Biology  2009;9:54.
Background
Grapevine protection against diseases needs alternative strategies to the use of phytochemicals, implying a thorough knowledge of innate defense mechanisms. However, signalling pathways and regulatory elements leading to induction of defense responses have yet to be characterized in this species. In order to study defense response signalling to pathogens in Vitis vinifera, we took advantage of its recently completed genome sequence to characterize two putative orthologs of NPR1, a key player in salicylic acid (SA)-mediated resistance to biotrophic pathogens in Arabidopsis thaliana.
Results
Two cDNAs named VvNPR1.1 and VvNPR1.2 were isolated from Vitis vinifera cv Chardonnay, encoding proteins showing 55% and 40% identity to Arabidopsis NPR1 respectively. Constitutive expression of VvNPR1.1 and VvNPR1.2 monitored in leaves of V. vinifera cv Chardonnay was found to be enhanced by treatment with benzothiadiazole, a SA analog. In contrast, VvNPR1.1 and VvNPR1.2 transcript levels were not affected during infection of resistant Vitis riparia or susceptible V. vinifera with Plasmopara viticola, the causal agent of downy mildew, suggesting regulation of VvNPR1 activity at the protein level. VvNPR1.1-GFP and VvNPR1.2-GFP fusion proteins were transiently expressed by agroinfiltration in Nicotiana benthamiana leaves, where they localized predominantly to the nucleus. In this system, VvNPR1.1 and VvNPR1.2 expression was sufficient to trigger the accumulation of acidic SA-dependent Pathogenesis-Related proteins PR1 and PR2, but not of basic chitinases (PR3) in the absence of pathogen infection. Interestingly, when VvNPR1.1 or AtNPR1 were transiently overexpressed in Vitis vinifera leaves, the induction of grapevine PR1 was significantly enhanced in response to P. viticola.
Conclusion
In conclusion, our data identified grapevine homologs of NPR1, and their functional analysis showed that VvNPR1.1 and VvNPR1.2 likely control the expression of SA-dependent defense genes. Overexpression of VvNPR1 has thus the potential to enhance grapevine defensive capabilities upon fungal infection. As a consequence, manipulating VvNPR1 and other signalling elements could open ways to strengthen disease resistance mechanisms in this crop species.
doi:10.1186/1471-2229-9-54
PMCID: PMC2686700  PMID: 19432948

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