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Keywords:

  • Venturia inaequalis ;
  • Malus × domestica;
  • integration site;
  • expression analysis;
  • GMO

Summary

Using resistance genes from a crossable donor to obtain cultivars resistant to diseases and the use of such cultivars in production appears an economically and environmentally advantageous approach. In apple, introgression of resistance genes by classical breeding results in new cultivars, while introducing cisgenes by biotechnological methods maintains the original cultivar characteristics. Recently, plants of the popular apple ‘Gala’ were genetically modified by inserting the apple scab resistance gene Rvi6 (formerly HcrVf2) under control of its own regulatory sequences. This gene is derived from the scab-resistant apple ‘Florina’ (originally from the wild apple accession Malus floribunda 821). The vector used for genetic modification allowed a postselection marker gene elimination to achieve cisgenesis. In this work, three cisgenic lines were analysed to assess copy number, integration site, expression level and resistance to apple scab. For two of these lines, a single insertion was observed and, despite a very low expression of 0.07- and 0.002-fold compared with the natural expression of ‘Florina’, this was sufficient to induce plant reaction and reduce fungal growth by 80% compared with the scab-susceptible ‘Gala’. Similar results for resistance and expression analysis were obtained also for the third line, although it was impossible to determine the copy number and TDNA integration site–such molecular characterization is requested by the (EC) Regulation No. 1829/2003, but may become unnecessary if cisgenic crops become exempt from GMO regulation.