Molecular Plant Pathology

Cover image for Vol. 17 Issue 6

Edited By: Marty Dickman

Impact Factor: 4.335

ISI Journal Citation Reports © Ranking: 2015: 16/209 (Plant Sciences)

Online ISSN: 1364-3703

Associated Title(s): Plant Pathology

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Pyramiding effector binding elements to achieve broad-spectrum resistance against Xanthomonas

Citrus canker, caused by Xanthomonas citri pv. citri (Xcc), is a devastating disease that limits citrus production worldwide and no resistance (R) gene is available in citrus against infections. Xanthomonas species inject transcription activator-like (TAL) effectors that modulate transcription of host genes by directly binding to the effector binding element (EBE) in the promoter region. In the paper An engineered promoter driving expression of a microbial avirulence gene confers recognition of TAL effectors and reduces growth of diverse Xanthomonas strains in citrus Shantharaj et al. showed that a synthetic promoter with different EBEs transcriptionally activated the β-glucuronidase (GUS) reporter gene in response to TAL effectors from multiple Xcc strains. As a proof-of-principle, the GUS reporter gene was replaced with the avirulence (avr) gene avrGf1 under the control of this synthetic promoter. Interestingly, it triggered potent resistant responses when transiently expressed in citrus in response to multiple Xcc strains carrying different TAL effectors that recognize the cognate EBEs in the promoter. Though we await details on the further optimization required for developing stable transgenic plants, the work certainly provides further insights into an alternative strategy for pathogen-induced resistance against diverse Xanthomonas strains via pyramiding EBEs to induce the expression of an R gene, or avr gene in this case, in planta to achieve broad-spectrum resistance.

Pyramiding EBEs to achieve broad-spectrum resistance

Figure: Pyramiding EBEs to achieve broad-spectrum resistance. Most xanthomonads use the type III secretion system (T3SS) to deliver TAL effectors into plant cells. These modulate host gene transcription by directly binding to the EBE in the promoter region. Under the control of a synthetic promoter that possesses multiple EBEs recognized by corresponding TAL effectors, an avr gene can be expressed in planta as a transgene to trigger R gene-mediated plant disease resistance against diverse Xanthomonas strains carrying the matching TAL effectors.

Text and figure courtesy of Kevin L. Cox Jr. and Libo Shan, Texas A&M University, USA

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Opinion Pieces

Opinion Pieces serve as a forum for healthy discussion and debate on molecular plant science, both within the journal's scope, and on broader topics beyond the research described in Molecular Plant Pathology.
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