Crop Biotech Update

Tomato ERFs Found Vital for Resistance to Botrytis cinerea

December 14, 2016

The Ethylene-Responsive Factors (ERFs) are a large family of transcriptional factors that have critical roles in plant immunity. Gray mold disease caused by the fungus Botrytis cinerea is the serious disease that threatens tomato production worldwide. However, little is known about the mechanism of immunity to B. cinerea in tomato.

Zhejiang University scientists, led by Zhijang Ouyang, analyzed members of the B3 group in tomato ERF family through virus-induced gene silencing (VIGS)-based analysis. This was conducted to identify putative ERFs involved in disease resistance against Botrytis cinerea.

Silencing of either SlERF.B1 or SlERF.C2 had a lethal effect, while silencing of SlERF.A3 significantly suppressed the vegetative growth of tomato plants. More importantly, silencing of SlERF.A1, SlERF.A3, SlERF.B4 or SlERF.C3 resulted in increased susceptibility to B. cinerea and eased the expression responsive defense genes. Expression of these four ERFs was found to be induced by B. cinerea and by defense signaling hormones. Furthermore, silencing of SlERF.A3 also decreased the resistance against Pseudomonas syringae pv. tomato.

These results suggest that SlERF.A1, SlERF.B4, SlERF.C3, and SlERF.A3, play important roles in resistance against B. cinerea in tomato.

For more information on this study, read the full article in Frontiers in Plant Science.