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Crop Biotech Update

RPW8.1 Gene Boosts Pattern-Triggered Immunity against Multiple Pathogens

August 2, 2017

The Arabidopsis gene RESISTANCE TO POWDERY MILDEW8.1 (RPW8.1) confers resistance to virulent fungal pathogens. However, the underlying mechanism remains unclear. Yan Li and a team of researchers from Sichuan Agricultural University studied the gene by ectopic expression of RPW8.1 in Arabidopsis and rice. This boosted pattern-triggered immunity (PTI), resulting in enhanced resistance against different pathogens in both crops.

In Arabidopsis, analysis revealed that ectopic expression of RPW8.1-YFP upregulated expression of many pathogen-associated molecular pattern (PAMP-)-inducible genes. The transgenic line exhibited pronounced PTI responses such as callose deposition, production of reactive oxygen species, expression of defense-related genes and hypersensitive response such as cell death.

Hence, the growth of a virulent bacterial pathogen was significantly inhibited in transgenic lines expressing RPW8.1-YFP. In rice, expression of RPW8.1-YFP led to enhanced resistance to the blast fungus Pyricularia oryzae and the bacterial pathogen Xanthomonas oryzae pv. oryzae.

These results suggest a connection between RPW8.1 function and PTI, and demonstrate the potential of RPW8.1 as a transgene for engineering disease resistance across crops.

For more information, read the article in Plant Biotechnology Journal.