Tomato stands firm in face of fungus

May 9, 2008

Scientists at the University of Amsterdam have discovered how to keep one’s tomatoes from wilting – the answer lies at the molecular level. The story of how the plant beat the pathogen, and what it means for combating other plant diseases, is published May 9th in the open-access journal PLoS Pathogens.

Farmers and fellow agriculturalists are continuously battling the ability of plant pathogens to co-evolve alongside their host’s immune system. In agriculture, the most environmentally friendly way to combat the evolutionary change in plant diseases is to make use of the innate immune system of plants. Growers can cross into targeted plant varieties certain polymorphic resistance genes that occur in related plants, thereby naturally boosting the plant’s immune system.

In this study, Dr. Martijn Rep and his team explored the molecular basis of this previously established concept of crossing in resistance genes. The authors considered the interaction between a fungal pathogen, Fusarium oxysporum, and the tomato plant in which the fungus causes Fusarium wilt disease.

The group found that a small protein secreted by some strains of the fungus causes it to overcome two of the tomato’s disease resistance genes. However, a third resistance gene was shown to specifically target this suppressor protein, rendering the plant fully immune to any fungal strain that produces the protein. Thus, with the right set of resistance genes, tomatoes can beat the fungus despite the latter’s “molecular tricks.”

“This molecular analysis has revealed a hitherto unpredicted strategy for durable disease control based on resistance gene combinations,” say the authors.

Citation: Houterman PM, Cornelissen BJC, Rep M (2008) Suppression of Plant Resistance Gene-Based Immunity by a Fungal Effector. PLoS Pathog 4(5): e1000061. doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1000061

Source: Public Library of Science

Explore further: How plant sensors detect pathogens

Related Stories

How plant sensors detect pathogens

August 25, 2015

In the mid-20th century, an American scientist named Harold Henry Flor helped explain how certain varieties of plants can fight off some plant killers (pathogens), but not others, with a model called the "gene-for-gene" hypothesis. ...

Worm pheromones trigger plant defenses, study finds

July 24, 2015

Plants can sense parasitic roundworms in the soil by picking up on their chemical signals, a team of researchers at the Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research (BTI), on the Cornell University campus, has found.

Unlocking the rice immune system

July 24, 2015

A bacterial signal that when recognized by rice plants enables the plants to resist a devastating blight disease has been identified by a multi-national team of researchers led by scientists with the U.S. Department of Energy ...

Unearthing cornerstones in root microbiomes

July 16, 2015

Like the tip of an iceberg, a plant sprouting from the soil barely hints at what lies beneath. At the nexus where roots and soil intersect are thriving microbial communities that play important roles in plant health and growth. ...

Recommended for you

Fighting explosives pollution with plants

September 3, 2015

Biologists at the University of York have taken an important step in making it possible to clean millions of hectares of land contaminated by explosives.

Clues from ancient Maya reveal lasting impact on environment

September 3, 2015

Evidence from the tropical lowlands of Central America reveals how Maya activity more than 2,000 years ago not only contributed to the decline of their environment but continues to influence today's environmental conditions, ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.