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Loss of function in Mlo orthologs reduces susceptibility of pepper and tomato to powdery mildew disease caused by Leveillula taurica

Zheng Zheng, Teruo Nonomura, Michela Appiano, Stefano Pavan, Yoshinori Matsuda, Hideyoshi Toyoda, Anne-Marie A Wolters, Richard G F Visser, Yuling Bai
PloS One 2013, 8 (7): e70723
23923019
Powdery mildew disease caused by Leveillula taurica is a serious fungal threat to greenhouse tomato and pepper production. In contrast to most powdery mildew species which are epiphytic, L. taurica is an endophytic fungus colonizing the mesophyll tissues of the leaf. In barley, Arabidopsis, tomato and pea, the correct functioning of specific homologues of the plant Mlo gene family has been found to be required for pathogenesis of epiphytic powdery mildew fungi. The aim of this study was to investigate the involvement of the Mlo genes in susceptibility to the endophytic fungus L. taurica. In tomato (Solanum lycopersicum), a loss-of-function mutation in the SlMlo1 gene results in resistance to powdery mildew disease caused by Oidium neolycopersici. When the tomato Slmlo1 mutant was inoculated with L. taurica in this study, it proved to be less susceptible compared to the control, S. lycopersicum cv. Moneymaker. Further, overexpression of SlMlo1 in the tomato Slmlo1 mutant enhanced susceptibility to L. taurica. In pepper, the CaMlo2 gene was isolated by applying a homology-based cloning approach. Compared to the previously identified CaMlo1 gene, the CaMlo2 gene is more similar to SlMlo1 as shown by phylogenetic analysis, and the expression of CaMlo2 is up-regulated at an earlier time point upon L. taurica infection. However, results of virus-induced gene silencing suggest that both CaMlo1 and CaMlo2 may be involved in the susceptibility of pepper to L. taurica. The fact that overexpression of CaMlo2 restored the susceptibility of the tomato Slmlo1 mutant to O. neolycopersici and increased its susceptibility to L. taurica confirmed the role of CaMlo2 acting as a susceptibility factor to different powdery mildews, though the role of CaMlo1 as a co-factor for susceptibility cannot be excluded.

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