CRISPR/Cas9-mediated mutagenesis of VvMLO3 results in enhanced resistance to powdery mildew in grapevine (Vitis vinifera).
ABSTRACT: Grapevine (Vitis vinifera), one of the most economically important fruit crops in the world, suffers significant yield losses from powdery mildew, a major fungal disease caused by Erysiphe necator. In addition to suppressing host immunity, phytopathogens modulate host proteins termed susceptibility (S) factors to promote their proliferation in plants. In this study, CRISPR/Cas9 (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats/CRISPR-associated 9) technology was used to enable the targeted mutagenesis of MLO (mildew resistance Locus O) family genes that are thought to serve as S factors for powdery mildew fungi. Small deletions or insertions were induced in one or both alleles of two grapevine MLO genes, VvMLO3 and VvMLO4, in the transgenic plantlets of the powdery mildew-susceptible cultivar Thompson Seedless. The editing efficiency achieved with different CRISPR/Cas9 constructs varied from 0 to 38.5%. Among the 20 VvMLO3/4-edited lines obtained, one was homozygous for a single mutation, three harbored biallelic mutations, seven were heterozygous for the mutations, and nine were chimeric, as indicated by the presence of more than two mutated alleles in each line. Six of the 20 VvMLO3/4-edited grapevine lines showed normal growth, while the remaining lines exhibited senescence-like chlorosis and necrosis. Importantly, four VvMLO3-edited lines showed enhanced resistance to powdery mildew, which was associated with host cell death, cell wall apposition (CWA) and H2O2 accumulation. Taken together, our results demonstrate that CRISPR/Cas9 genome-editing technology can be successfully used to induce targeted mutations in genes of interest to improve traits of economic importance, such as disease resistance in grapevines.
Project description:Erysiphe necator is the causal agent of powdery mildew (PM), one of the most destructive diseases of grapevine. PM is controlled by sulfur-based and synthetic fungicides, which every year are dispersed into the environment. This is why PM-resistant varieties should become a priority for sustainable grapevine and wine production. PM resistance can be achieved in other crops by knocking out susceptibility S-genes, such as those residing at genetic loci known as MLO (Mildew Locus O). All MLO S-genes of dicots belong to the phylogenetic clade V, including grapevine genes VvMLO7, 11 and 13, which are upregulated during PM infection, and VvMLO6, which is not upregulated. Before adopting a gene-editing approach to knockout candidate S-genes, the evidence that loss of function of MLO genes can reduce PM susceptibility is necessary. This paper reports the knockdown through RNA interference of VvMLO6, 7, 11 and 13. The knockdown of VvMLO6, 11 and 13 did not decrease PM severity, whereas the knockdown of VvMLO7 in combination with VvMLO6 and VvMLO11 reduced PM severity up to 77%. The knockdown of VvMLO7 and VvMLO6 seemed to be important for PM resistance, whereas a role for VvMLO11 does not seem likely. Cell wall appositions (papillae) were present in both resistant and susceptible lines in response to PM attack. Thirteen genes involved in defense were less upregulated in infected mlo plants, highlighting the early mlo-dependent disruption of PM invasion.
Project description:Wheat is one of the most widely grown cereal crops in the world and is an important food grain source for humans. However, wheat yields can be reduced by many abiotic and biotic stress factors, including powdery mildew disease caused by Blumeria graminis f.sp. tritici (Bgt). Generating resistant varieties is thus a major effort in plant breeding. Here, we took advantage of the non-transgenic Targeting Induced Lesions IN Genomes (TILLING) technology to select partial loss-of-function alleles of TaMlo, the orthologue of the barley Mlo (Mildew resistance locus o) gene. Natural and induced loss-of-function alleles (mlo) of barley Mlo are known to confer durable broad-spectrum powdery mildew resistance, typically at the expense of pleiotropic phenotypes such as premature leaf senescence. We identified 16 missense mutations in the three wheat TaMlo homoeologues, TaMlo-A1, TaMlo-B1 and TaMlo-D1 that each lead to single amino acid exchanges. Using transient gene expression assays in barley single cells, we functionally analysed the different missense mutants and identified the most promising candidates affecting powdery mildew susceptibility. By stacking of selected mutant alleles we generated four independent lines with non-conservative mutations in each of the three TaMlo homoeologues. Homozygous triple mutant lines and surprisingly also some of the homozygous double mutant lines showed enhanced, yet incomplete, Bgt resistance without the occurrence of discernible pleiotropic phenotypes. These lines thus represent an important step towards the production of commercial non-transgenic, powdery mildew-resistant bread wheat varieties.
Project description:Loss of barley Mildew Resistance Locus O (MLO) is known to confer durable and robust resistance to powdery mildew (Blumeria graminis), a biotrophic fungal leaf pathogen. Based on the increased expression of MLO in mycorrhizal roots and its presence in a clade of the MLO family that is specific to mycorrhizal-host species, we investigated the potential role of MLO in arbuscular mycorrhizal interactions. Using mutants from barley (Hordeum vulgare), wheat (Triticum aestivum), and Medicago truncatula, we demonstrate a role for MLO in colonization by the arbuscular mycorrhizal fungus Rhizophagus irregularis. Early mycorrhizal colonization was reduced in mlo mutants of barley, wheat, and M. truncatula, and this was accompanied by a pronounced decrease in the expression of many of the key genes required for intracellular accommodation of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi. These findings show that clade IV MLOs are involved in the establishment of symbiotic associations with beneficial fungi, a role that has been appropriated by powdery mildew.
Project description:Pierce's disease (PD) of grapevine (Vitis vinifera) is caused by the bacterium Xylella fastidiosa and is vectored by xylem sap-sucking insects, whereas Grapevine Red Blotch Virus (GRBV) causes Red Blotch Disease and is transmitted in the laboratory by alfalfa leafhopper Spissistilus festinus. The significance of anthocyanin accumulations in distinct tissues of grapevine by these pathogens is unknown, but vector feeding preferences and olfactory cues from host anthocyanins may be important for these disease etiologies. Phosphate, sugar, and UV light are known to regulate anthocyanin accumulation via miR828 and Trans-Acting Small-interfering locus4 (TAS4), specifically in grape by production of phased TAS4a/b/c small-interfering RNAs that are differentially expressed and target MYBA5/6/7 transcription factor transcripts for post-transcriptional slicing and antisense-mediated silencing. To generate materials that can critically test these genes' functions in PD and GRBV disease symptoms, we produced transgenic grape plants targeting TAS4b and MYBA7 using CRISPR/Cas9 technology. We obtained five MYBA7 lines all with bi-allelic editing events and no off-targets detected at genomic loci with homology to the guide sequence. We obtained two independent edited TAS4b lines; one bi-allelic, the other heterozygous while both had fortuitous evidences of bi-allelic TAS4a off-target editing events at the paralogous locus. No visible anthocyanin accumulation phenotypes were observed in regenerated plants, possibly due to the presence of genetically redundant TAS4c and MYBA5/6 loci or absence of inductive environmental stress conditions. The editing events encompass single base insertions and di/trinucleotide deletions of Vvi-TAS4a/b and Vvi-MYBA7 at expected positions 3 nt upstream from the guideRNA proximal adjacent motifs NGG. We also identified evidences of homologous recombinations of TAS4a with TAS4b at the TAS4a off-target in one of the TAS4b lines, resulting in a chimeric locus with a bi-allelic polymorphism, supporting independent recombination events in transgenic plants associated with apparent high Cas9 activities. The lack of obvious visible pigment phenotypes in edited plants precluded pathogen challenge tests of the role of anthocyanins in host PD and GRBV resistance/tolerance mechanisms. Nonetheless, we demonstrate successful genome-editing of non-coding RNA and MYB transcription factor loci which can serve future characterizations of the functions of TAS4a/b/c and MYBA7 in developmental, physiological, and environmental biotic/abiotic stress response pathways important for value-added nutraceutical synthesis and pathogen responses of winegrape.
Project description:The MLO (Mildew Locus O) gene family encodes plant-specific proteins containing seven transmembrane domains and likely acting in signal transduction in a calcium and calmodulin dependent manner. Some members of the MLO family are susceptibility factors toward fungi causing the powdery mildew disease. In tomato, for example, the loss-of-function of the MLO gene SlMLO1 leads to a particular form of powdery mildew resistance, called ol-2, which arrests almost completely fungal penetration. This type of penetration resistance is characterized by the apposition of papillae at the sites of plant-pathogen interaction. Other MLO homologs in Arabidopsis regulate root response to mechanical stimuli (AtMLO4 and AtMLO11) and pollen tube reception by the female gametophyte (AtMLO7). However, the role of most MLO genes remains unknown. In this work, we provide a genome-wide study of the tomato SlMLO gene family. Besides SlMLO1, other 15 SlMLO homologs were identified and characterized with respect to their structure, genomic organization, phylogenetic relationship, and expression profile. In addition, by analysis of transgenic plants, we demonstrated that simultaneous silencing of SlMLO1 and two of its closely related homologs, SlMLO5 and SlMLO8, confer higher level of resistance than the one associated with the ol-2 mutation. The outcome of this study provides evidence for functional redundancy among tomato homolog genes involved in powdery mildew susceptibility. Moreover, we developed a series of transgenic lines silenced for individual SlMLO homologs, which lay the foundation for further investigations aimed at assigning new biological functions to the MLO gene family.
Project description: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.
Project description:BACKGROUND:The powdery mildew disease affects thousands of plant species and arguably represents the major fungal threat for many Cucurbitaceae crops, including melon (Cucumis melo L.), watermelon (Citrullus lanatus L.) and zucchini (Cucurbita pepo L.). Several studies revealed that specific members of the Mildew Locus O (MLO) gene family act as powdery mildew susceptibility factors. Indeed, their inactivation, as the result of gene knock-out or knock-down, is associated with a peculiar form of resistance, referred to as mlo resistance. RESULTS:We exploited recently available genomic information to provide a comprehensive overview of the MLO gene family in Cucurbitaceae. We report the identification of 16 MLO homologs in C. melo, 14 in C. lanatus and 18 in C. pepo genomes. Bioinformatic treatment of data allowed phylogenetic inference and the prediction of several ortholog pairs and groups. Comparison with functionally characterized MLO genes and, in C. lanatus, gene expression analysis, resulted in the detection of candidate powdery mildew susceptibility factors. We identified a series of conserved amino acid residues and motifs that are likely to play a major role for the function of MLO proteins. Finally, we performed a codon-based evolutionary analysis indicating a general high level of purifying selection in the three Cucurbitaceae MLO gene families, and the occurrence of regions under diversifying selection in candidate susceptibility factors. CONCLUSIONS:Results of this study may help to address further biological questions concerning the evolution and function of MLO genes. Moreover, data reported here could be conveniently used by breeding research, aiming to select powdery mildew resistant cultivars in Cucurbitaceae.
Project description:Loss-of-function alleles of plant-specific MLO (Mildew Resistance Locus O) genes confer broad-spectrum powdery mildew resistance in monocot (barley) and dicot (Arabidopsis thaliana, tomato) plants. Recessively inherited powdery mildew resistance in pea (Pisum sativum) er1 plants is, in many aspects, reminiscent of mlo-conditioned powdery mildew immunity, yet the underlying gene has remained elusive to date. We used a polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based approach to amplify a candidate MLO cDNA from wild-type (Er1) pea. Sequence analysis of the PsMLO1 candidate gene in two natural er1 accessions from Asia and two er1-containing pea cultivars with a New World origin revealed, in each case, detrimental nucleotide polymorphisms in PsMLO1, suggesting that PsMLO1 is Er1. We corroborated this hypothesis by restoration of susceptibility on transient expression of PsMLO1 in the leaves of two resistant er1 accessions. Orthologous legume MLO genes from Medicago truncatula and Lotus japonicus likewise complemented the er1 phenotype. All tested er1 genotypes showed unaltered colonization with the arbuscular mycorrhizal fungus, Glomus intraradices, and with nitrogen-fixing rhizobial bacteria. Our data demonstrate that PsMLO1 is Er1 and that the loss of PsMLO1 function conditions durable broad-spectrum powdery mildew resistance in pea.
Project description: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.
Project description:Genome editing has emerged as a technology with a potential to revolutionize plant breeding. In this study, we report on generating, in less than ten months, Tomelo, a non-transgenic tomato variety resistant to the powdery mildew fungal pathogen using the CRISPR/Cas9 technology. We used whole-genome sequencing to show that Tomelo does not carry any foreign DNA sequences but only carries a deletion that is indistinguishable from naturally occurring mutations. We also present evidence for CRISPR/Cas9 being a highly precise tool, as we did not detect off-target mutations in Tomelo. Using our pipeline, mutations can be readily introduced into elite or locally adapted tomato varieties in less than a year with relatively minimal effort and investment.