Plant protease inhibitors are a structurally highly diverse and ubiquitous class of small proteins, which play various roles in plant development and defense against pests and pathogens. Particular isoforms inhibit in vitro proteases and other enzymes that are not their natural substrates, for example proteases that have roles in human diseases. Mature potato tubers are a rich source of several protease inhibitor families. Different cultivars have different inhibitor profiles. With the objective to explore the functional diversity of the natural diversity of potato protease inhibitors, we randomly selected and sequenced 9,600 cDNA clones originated from mature tubers of ten potato cultivars. Among these, 120 unique inhibitor cDNA clones were identified by homology searches. Eighty-eight inhibitors represented novel sequence variants of known plant protease inhibitor families. Most frequent were Kunitz-type inhibitors (KTI), potato protease inhibitors I and II (PIN), pectin methylesterase inhibitors, metallocarboxypeptidase inhibitors and defensins. Twenty-three inhibitors were functionally characterized after heterologous expression in the yeast Pichia pastoris. The purified recombinant proteins were tested for inhibitory activity on trypsin, eleven pharmacological relevant proteases and the non-proteolytic enzyme 5-lipoxygenase. Members of the KTI and PIN families inhibited pig pancreas elastase, β-Secretase, Cathepsin K, HIV-1 protease and potato 5-lipoxygenase. Our results demonstrate in vitro inhibitory diversity of small potato tuber proteins commonly known as protease inhibitors, which might have biotechnological or medical applications.
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Potato (Solanum tuberosum L.); Tuber; Enzyme inhibitor; Protease inhibitor; Heterologous expression; Pichia pastoris
Starch accumulation and breakdown are vital processes in plant storage organs such as seeds, roots, and tubers. In tubers of potato (Solanum tuberosum L.) a small fraction of starch is converted into the reducing sugars glucose and fructose. Reducing sugars accumulate in response to cold temperatures. Even small quantities of reducing sugars affect negatively the quality of processed products such as chips and French fries. Tuber starch and sugar content are inversely correlated complex traits that are controlled by multiple genetic and environmental factors. Based on in silico annotation of the potato genome sequence, 123 loci are involved in starch-sugar interconversion, approximately half of which have been previously cloned and characterized. By means of candidate gene association mapping, we identified single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in eight genes known to have key functions in starch-sugar interconversion, which were diagnostic for increased tuber starch and/or decreased sugar content and vice versa. Most positive or negative effects of SNPs on tuber-reducing sugar content were reproducible in two different collections of potato cultivars. The diagnostic SNP markers are useful for breeding applications. An allele of the plastidic starch phosphorylase PHO1a associated with increased tuber starch content was cloned as full-length cDNA and characterized. The PHO1a-HA allele has several amino acid changes, one of which is unique among all known starch/glycogen phosphorylases. This mutation might cause reduced enzyme activity due to impaired formation of the active dimers, thereby limiting starch breakdown.
complex trait; starch metabolism; association mapping; marker-assisted selection; potato (Solanum tuberosum L.)
Identification of resistance genes to potato wart disease caused bySynchytrium endobioticumis the key for developing diagnostic markers for breeding resistant cultivars. We present an overview on the current knowledge of this host-pathogen system and molecular advances while highlighting future research focus.
Potato wart is a quarantined disease of cultivated potato (Solanum tuberosum L.) caused by the obligate biotrophic, soil-borne fungus Synchytrium endobioticum (Schilb.) Perc. Since its discovery by Schilberszky in 1896, the management of wart disease was enabled by research efforts focusing on understanding and classifying the causative agent, its mode of infection, pathogenesis, geographical distribution, detection and chemical control, on developing screening methods for host resistance and on genetic analyses, which led to the development of resistant cultivars. These early successes are currently challenged by new S. endobioticum pathotypes evolving and the increased risk of dissemination by potato tuber trade. New research efforts are therefore required to ensure continuation of effective and sustainable management of the potato wart disease. Advances in molecular biology and genomic tools offer potential for innovations. This review presents an overview on what we know about this complex host-pathogen interaction, highlights recent molecular work and embarks on an outlook towards future research directions.
Higher plants evolved various strategies to adapt to chilling conditions. Among other transcriptional and metabolic responses to cold temperatures plants accumulate a range of solutes including sugars. The accumulation of the reducing sugars glucose and fructose in mature potato tubers during exposure to cold temperatures is referred to as cold induced sweetening (CIS). The molecular basis of CIS in potato tubers is of interest not only in basic research on plant adaptation to environmental stress but also in applied research, since high amounts of reducing sugars affect negatively the quality of processed food products such as potato chips. CIS-tolerance varies considerably among potato cultivars. Our objective was to identify by an unbiased approach genes and cellular processes influencing natural variation of tuber sugar content before and during cold storage in potato cultivars used in breeding programs. We compared by two-dimensional polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis the tuber proteomes of cultivars highly diverse for CIS. DNA polymorphisms in genomic sequences encoding differentially expressed proteins were tested for association with tuber starch content, starch yield and processing quality.
Pronounced natural variation of CIS was detected in tubers of a population of 40 tetraploid potato cultivars. Significant differences in protein expression were detected between CIS-tolerant and CIS-sensitive cultivars before the onset as well as during cold storage. Identifiable differential proteins corresponded to protease inhibitors, patatins, heat shock proteins, lipoxygenase, phospholipase A1 and leucine aminopeptidase (Lap). Association mapping based on single nucleotide polymorphisms supported a role of Lap in the natural variation of the quantitative traits tuber starch and sugar content.
The combination of comparative proteomics and association genetics led to the discovery of novel candidate genes for influencing the natural variation of quantitative traits in potato tubers. One such gene was a leucine aminopeptidase not considered so far to play a role in starch sugar interconversion. Novel SNP’s diagnostic for increased tuber starch content, starch yield and chip quality were identified, which are useful for selecting improved potato processing cultivars.
Tuber yield, starch content, starch yield and chip color are complex traits that are important for industrial uses and food processing of potato. Chip color depends on the quantity of reducing sugars glucose and fructose in the tubers, which are generated by starch degradation. Reducing sugars accumulate when tubers are stored at low temperatures. Early and efficient selection of cultivars with superior yield, starch yield and chip color is hampered by the fact that reliable phenotypic selection requires multiple year and location trials. Application of DNA-based markers early in the breeding cycle, which are diagnostic for superior alleles of genes that control natural variation of tuber quality, will reduce the number of clones to be evaluated in field trials. Association mapping using genes functional in carbohydrate metabolism as markers has discovered alleles of invertases and starch phosphorylases that are associated with tuber quality traits. Here, we report on new DNA variants at loci encoding ADP-glucose pyrophosphorylase and the invertase Pain-1, which are associated with positive or negative effect with chip color, tuber starch content and starch yield. Marker-assisted selection (MAS) and marker validation were performed in tetraploid breeding populations, using various combinations of 11 allele-specific markers associated with tuber quality traits. To facilitate MAS, user-friendly PCR assays were developed for specific candidate gene alleles. In a multi-parental population of advanced breeding clones, genotypes were selected for having different combinations of five positive and the corresponding negative marker alleles. Genotypes combining five positive marker alleles performed on average better than genotypes with four negative alleles and one positive allele. When tested individually, seven of eight markers showed an effect on at least one quality trait. The direction of effect was as expected. Combinations of two to three marker alleles were identified that significantly improved average chip quality after cold storage and tuber starch content. In F1 progeny of a single-cross combination, MAS with six markers did not give the expected result. Reasons and implications for MAS in potato are discussed.
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Resistance to pathogens is essential for survival of wild and cultivated plants. Pathogen susceptibility causes major losses of crop yield and quality. Durable field resistance combined with high yield and other superior agronomic characters are therefore, important objectives in every crop breeding program. Precision and efficacy of resistance breeding can be enhanced by molecular diagnostic tools, which result from knowledge of the molecular basis of resistance and susceptibility. Breeding uses resistance conferred by single R genes and polygenic quantitative resistance. The latter is partial but considered more durable. Molecular mechanisms of plant pathogen interactions are elucidated mainly in experimental systems involving single R genes, whereas most genes important for quantitative resistance in crops like potato are unknown. Quantitative resistance of potato to Phytophthora infestans causing late blight is often compromised by late plant maturity, a negative agronomic character. Our objective was to identify candidate genes for quantitative resistance to late blight not compromised by late plant maturity. We used diagnostic DNA-markers to select plants with different field levels of maturity corrected resistance (MCR) to late blight and compared their leaf transcriptomes before and after infection with P. infestans using SuperSAGE (serial analysis of gene expression) technology and next generation sequencing. We identified 2034 transcripts up or down regulated upon infection, including a homolog of the kiwi fruit allergen kiwellin. 806 transcripts showed differential expression between groups of genotypes with contrasting MCR levels. The observed expression patterns suggest that MCR is in part controlled by differential transcript levels in uninfected plants. Functional annotation suggests that, besides biotic and abiotic stress responses, general cellular processes such as photosynthesis, protein biosynthesis, and degradation play a role in MCR.
potato; late blight; transcript profiling; SAGE; marker-assisted selection
Late blight, caused by the oomycete Phytophthora infestans, is the most important disease of potato (Solanum tuberosum). Understanding the molecular basis of resistance and susceptibility to late blight is therefore highly relevant for developing resistant cultivars, either by marker-assissted selection or by transgenic approaches. Specific P. infestans races having the Avr1 effector gene trigger a hypersensitive resistance response in potato plants carrying the R1 resistance gene (incompatible interaction) and cause disease in plants lacking R1 (compatible interaction). The transcriptomes of the compatible and incompatible interaction were captured by DeepSAGE analysis of 44 biological samples comprising five genotypes, differing only by the presence or absence of the R1 transgene, three infection time points and three biological replicates. 30.859 unique 21 base pair sequence tags were obtained, one third of which did not match any known potato transcript sequence. Two third of the tags were expressed at low frequency (<10 tag counts/million). 20.470 unitags matched to approximately twelve thousand potato transcribed genes. Tag frequencies were compared between compatible and incompatible interactions over the infection time course and between compatible and incompatible genotypes. Transcriptional changes were more numerous in compatible than in incompatible interactions. In contrast to incompatible interactions, transcriptional changes in the compatible interaction were observed predominantly for multigene families encoding defense response genes and genes functional in photosynthesis and CO2 fixation. Numerous transcriptional differences were also observed between near isogenic genotypes prior to infection with P. infestans. Our DeepSAGE transcriptome analysis uncovered novel candidate genes for plant host pathogen interactions, examples of which are discussed with respect to possible function.
The obligate biotrophic, soil-borne fungus Synchytrium endobioticum causes wart disease of potato (Solanum tuberosum), which is a serious problem for crop production in countries with moderate climates. S. endobioticum induces hypertrophic cell divisions in plant host tissues leading to the formation of tumor-like structures. Potato wart is a quarantine disease and chemical control is not possible. From 38 S. endobioticum pathotypes occurring in Europe, pathotypes 1, 2, 6 and 18 are the most relevant. Genetic resistance to wart is available but only few current potato varieties are resistant to all four pathotypes. The phenotypic evaluation of wart resistance is laborious, time-consuming and sometimes ambiguous, which makes breeding for resistance difficult. Molecular markers diagnostic for genes for resistance to S. endobioticum pathotypes 1, 2, 6 and 18 would greatly facilitate the selection of new, resistant cultivars. Two tetraploid half-sib families (266 individuals) segregating for resistance to S. endobioticum pathotypes 1, 2, 6 and 18 were produced by crossing a resistant genotype with two different susceptible ones. The families were scored for five different wart resistance phenotypes. The distribution of mean resistance scores was quantitative in both families. Resistance to pathotypes 2, 6 and 18 was correlated and independent from resistance to pathotype 1. DNA pools were constructed from the most resistant and most susceptible individuals and screened with genome wide simple sequence repeat (SSR), inverted simple sequence region (ISSR) and randomly amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD) markers. Bulked segregant analysis identified three SSR markers that were linked to wart resistance loci (Sen). Sen1-XI on chromosome XI conferred partial resistance to pathotype 1, Sen18-IX on chromosome IX to pathotype 18 and Sen2/6/18-I on chromosome I to pathotypes 2,6 and 18. Additional genotyping with 191 single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) markers confirmed the localization of the Sen loci. Thirty-three SNP markers linked to the Sen loci permitted the dissection of Sen alleles that increased or decreased resistance to wart. The alleles were inherited from both the resistant and susceptible parents.
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Most agronomic plant traits result from complex molecular networks involving multiple genes and from environmental factors. One such trait is the enzymatic discoloration of fruit and tuber tissues initiated by mechanical impact (bruising). Tuber susceptibility to bruising is a complex trait of the cultivated potato (Solanum tuberosum) that is crucial for crop quality. As phenotypic evaluation of bruising is cumbersome, the application of diagnostic molecular markers would empower the selection of low bruising potato varieties. The genetic factors and molecular networks underlying enzymatic tissue discoloration are sparsely known. Hitherto there is no association study dealing with tuber bruising and diagnostic markers for enzymatic discoloration are rare.
The natural genetic diversity for bruising susceptibility was evaluated in elite middle European potato germplasm in order to elucidate its molecular basis. Association genetics using a candidate gene approach identified allelic variants in genes that function in tuber bruising and enzymatic browning. Two hundred and five tetraploid potato varieties and breeding clones related by descent were evaluated for two years in six environments for tuber bruising susceptibility, specific gravity, yield, shape and plant maturity. Correlations were found between different traits. In total 362 polymorphic DNA fragments, derived from 33 candidate genes and 29 SSR loci, were scored in the population and tested for association with the traits using a mixed model approach, which takes into account population structure and kinship. Twenty one highly significant (p < 0.001) and robust marker-trait associations were identified.
The observed trait correlations and associated marker fragments provide new insight in the molecular basis of bruising susceptibility and its natural variation. The markers diagnostic for increased or decreased bruising susceptibility will facilitate the combination of superior alleles in breeding programs. In addition, this study presents novel candidates that might control enzymatic tissue discoloration and tuber bruising. Their validation and characterization will increase the knowledge about the underlying biological processes.
Invertases are ubiquitous enzymes that irreversibly cleave sucrose into fructose and glucose. Plant invertases play important roles in carbohydrate metabolism, plant development, and biotic and abiotic stress responses. In potato (Solanum tuberosum), invertases are involved in 'cold-induced sweetening' of tubers, an adaptive response to cold stress, which negatively affects the quality of potato chips and French fries. Linkage and association studies have identified quantitative trait loci (QTL) for tuber sugar content and chip quality that colocalize with three independent potato invertase loci, which together encode five invertase genes. The role of natural allelic variation of these genes in controlling the variation of tuber sugar content in different genotypes is unknown.
For functional studies on natural variants of five potato invertase genes we cloned and sequenced 193 full-length cDNAs from six heterozygous individuals (three tetraploid and three diploid). Eleven, thirteen, ten, twelve and nine different cDNA alleles were obtained for the genes Pain-1, InvGE, InvGF, InvCD141 and InvCD111, respectively. Allelic cDNA sequences differed from each other by 4 to 9%, and most were genotype specific. Additional variation was identified by single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) analysis in an association-mapping population of 219 tetraploid individuals. Haplotype modeling revealed two to three major haplotypes besides a larger number of minor frequency haplotypes. cDNA alleles associated with chip quality, tuber starch content and starch yield were identified.
Very high natural allelic variation was uncovered in a set of five potato invertase genes. This variability is a consequence of the cultivated potato's reproductive biology. Some of the structural variation found might underlie functional variation that influences important agronomic traits such as tuber sugar content. The associations found between specific invertase alleles and chip quality, tuber starch content and starch yield will facilitate the selection of superior potato genotypes in breeding programs.
Association mapping using DNA-based markers is a novel tool in plant genetics for the analysis of complex traits. Potato tuber yield, starch content, starch yield and chip color are complex traits of agronomic relevance, for which carbohydrate metabolism plays an important role. At the functional level, the genes and biochemical pathways involved in carbohydrate metabolism are among the best studied in plants. Quantitative traits such as tuber starch and sugar content are therefore models for association genetics in potato based on candidate genes. In an association mapping experiment conducted with a population of 243 tetraploid potato varieties and breeding clones, we previously identified associations between individual candidate gene alleles and tuber starch content, starch yield and chip quality. In the present paper, we tested 190 DNA markers at 36 loci scored in the same association mapping population for pairwise statistical epistatic interactions. Fifty marker pairs were associated mainly with tuber starch content and/or starch yield, at a cut-off value of q ≤ 0.20 for the experiment-wide false discovery rate (FDR). Thirteen marker pairs had an FDR of q ≤ 0.10. Alleles at loci encoding ribulose-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase activase (Rca), sucrose phosphate synthase (Sps) and vacuolar invertase (Pain1) were most frequently involved in statistical epistatic interactions. The largest effect on tuber starch content and starch yield was observed for the paired alleles Pain1-8c and Rca-1a, explaining 9 and 10% of the total variance, respectively. The combination of these two alleles increased the means of tuber starch content and starch yield. Biological models to explain the observed statistical epistatic interactions are discussed.
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Haplotype inference based on unphased SNP markers is an important task in population genetics. Although there are different approaches to the inference of haplotypes in diploid species, the existing software is not suitable for inferring haplotypes from unphased SNP data in polyploid species, such as the cultivated potato (Solanum tuberosum). Potato species are tetraploid and highly heterozygous.
Here we present the software SATlotyper which is able to handle polyploid and polyallelic data. SATlo-typer uses the Boolean satisfiability problem to formulate Haplotype Inference by Pure Parsimony. The software excludes existing haplotype inferences, thus allowing for calculation of alternative inferences. As it is not known which of the multiple haplotype inferences are best supported by the given unphased data set, we use a bootstrapping procedure that allows for scoring of alternative inferences. Finally, by means of the bootstrapping scores, it is possible to optimise the phased genotypes belonging to a given haplotype inference. The program is evaluated with simulated and experimental SNP data generated for heterozygous tetraploid populations of potato. We show that, instead of taking the first haplotype inference reported by the program, we can significantly improve the quality of the final result by applying additional methods that include scoring of the alternative haplotype inferences and genotype optimisation. For a sub-population of nineteen individuals, the predicted results computed by SATlotyper were directly compared with results obtained by experimental haplotype inference via sequencing of cloned amplicons. Prediction and experiment gave similar results regarding the inferred haplotypes and phased genotypes.
Our results suggest that Haplotype Inference by Pure Parsimony can be solved efficiently by the SAT approach, even for data sets of unphased SNP from heterozygous polyploids. SATlotyper is freeware and is distributed as a Java JAR file. The software can be downloaded from the webpage of the GABI Primary Database at . The application of SATlotyper will provide haplotype information, which can be used in haplotype association mapping studies of polyploid plants.
Natural variation of plant pathogen resistance is often quantitative. This type of resistance can be genetically dissected in quantitative resistance loci (QRL). To unravel the molecular basis of QRL in potato (Solanum tuberosum), we employed the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana for functional analysis of natural variants of potato allene oxide synthase 2 (StAOS2). StAOS2 is a candidate gene for QRL on potato chromosome XI against the oömycete Phytophthora infestans causing late blight, and the bacterium Erwinia carotovora ssp. atroseptica causing stem black leg and tuber soft rot, both devastating diseases in potato cultivation. StAOS2 encodes a cytochrome P450 enzyme that is essential for biosynthesis of the defense signaling molecule jasmonic acid. Allele non-specific dsRNAi-mediated silencing of StAOS2 in potato drastically reduced jasmonic acid production and compromised quantitative late blight resistance. Five natural StAOS2 alleles were expressed in the null Arabidopsis aos mutant under control of the Arabidopsis AOS promoter and tested for differential complementation phenotypes. The aos mutant phenotypes evaluated were lack of jasmonates, male sterility and susceptibility to Erwinia carotovora ssp. carotovora. StAOS2 alleles that were associated with increased disease resistance in potato complemented all aos mutant phenotypes better than StAOS2 alleles associated with increased susceptibility. First structure models of ‘quantitative resistant’ versus ‘quantitative susceptible’ StAOS2 alleles suggested potential mechanisms for their differential activity. Our results demonstrate how a candidate gene approach in combination with using the homologous Arabidopsis mutant as functional reporter can help to dissect the molecular basis of complex traits in non model crop plants.
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Black leg; Jasmonic acid; Late blight; Natural variation; Potato; Quantitative resistance; Soft rot
Complex characters of plants such as starch and sugar content of seeds, fruits, tubers and roots are controlled by multiple genetic and environmental factors. Understanding their molecular basis will facilitate diagnosis and combination of superior alleles in crop improvement programs (“precision breeding”). Association genetics based on candidate genes is one approach toward this goal. Tetraploid potato varieties and breeding clones related by descent were evaluated for 2 years for chip quality before and after cold storage, tuber starch content, yield and starch yield. Chip quality is inversely correlated with tuber sugar content. A total of 36 loci on 11 potato chromosomes were evaluated for natural DNA variation in 243 individuals. These loci included microsatellites and genes coding for enzymes that function in carbohydrate metabolism or transport (candidate loci). The markers were used to analyze population structure and were tested for association with the tuber quality traits. Highly significant and robust associations of markers with 1–4 traits were identified. Most frequent were associations with chip quality and tuber starch content. Alleles increasing tuber starch content improved chip quality and vice versa. With two exceptions, the most significant and robust associations (q < 0.01) were observed with DNA variants in genes encoding enzymes that function in starch and sugar metabolism or transport. Comparing linkage and linkage disequilibrium between loci provided evidence for the existence of large haplotype blocks in the breeding materials analyzed.
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Quantitative phenotypic variation of agronomic characters in crop plants is controlled by environmental and genetic factors (quantitative trait loci = QTL). To understand the molecular basis of such QTL, the identification of the underlying genes is of primary interest and DNA sequence analysis of the genomic regions harboring QTL is a prerequisite for that. QTL mapping in potato (Solanum tuberosum) has identified a region on chromosome V tagged by DNA markers GP21 and GP179, which contains a number of important QTL, among others QTL for resistance to late blight caused by the oomycete Phytophthora infestans and to root cyst nematodes.
To obtain genomic sequence for the targeted region on chromosome V, two local BAC (bacterial artificial chromosome) contigs were constructed and sequenced, which corresponded to parts of the homologous chromosomes of the diploid, heterozygous genotype P6/210. Two contiguous sequences of 417,445 and 202,781 base pairs were assembled and annotated. Gene-by-gene co-linearity was disrupted by non-allelic insertions of retrotransposon elements, stretches of diverged intergenic sequences, differences in gene content and gene order. The latter was caused by inversion of a 70 kbp genomic fragment. These features were also found in comparison to orthologous sequence contigs from three homeologous chromosomes of Solanum demissum, a wild tuber bearing species. Functional annotation of the sequence identified 48 putative open reading frames (ORF) in one contig and 22 in the other, with an average of one ORF every 9 kbp. Ten ORFs were classified as resistance-gene-like, 11 as F-box-containing genes, 13 as transposable elements and three as transcription factors. Comparing potato to Arabidopsis thaliana annotated proteins revealed five micro-syntenic blocks of three to seven ORFs with A. thaliana chromosomes 1, 3 and 5.
Comparative sequence analysis revealed highly conserved collinear regions that flank regions showing high variability and tandem duplicated genes. Sequence annotation revealed that the majority of the ORFs were members of multiple gene families. Comparing potato to Arabidopsis thaliana annotated proteins suggested fragmented structural conservation between these distantly related plant species.