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Identification of candidate MLO powdery mildew susceptibility genes in cultivated Solanaceae and functional characterization of tobacco NtMLO1

Michela Appiano, Stefano Pavan, Domenico Catalano, Zheng Zheng, Valentina Bracuto, Concetta Lotti, Richard G F Visser, Luigi Ricciardi, Yuling Bai
Transgenic Research 2015, 24 (5): 847-58
25947088
Specific homologs of the plant Mildew Locus O (MLO) gene family act as susceptibility factors towards the powdery mildew (PM) fungal disease, causing significant economic losses in agricultural settings. Thus, in order to obtain PM resistant phenotypes, a general breeding strategy has been proposed, based on the selective inactivation of MLO susceptibility genes across cultivated species. In this study, PCR-based methodologies were used in order to isolate MLO genes from cultivated solanaceous crops that are hosts for PM fungi, namely eggplant, potato and tobacco, which were named SmMLO1, StMLO1 and NtMLO1, respectively. Based on phylogenetic analysis and sequence alignment, these genes were predicted to be orthologs of tomato SlMLO1 and pepper CaMLO2, previously shown to be required for PM pathogenesis. Full-length sequence of the tobacco homolog NtMLO1 was used for a heterologous transgenic complementation assay, resulting in its characterization as a PM susceptibility gene. The same assay showed that a single nucleotide change in a mutated NtMLO1 allele leads to complete gene loss-of-function. Results here presented, also including a complete overview of the tobacco and potato MLO gene families, are valuable to study MLO gene evolution in Solanaceae and for molecular breeding approaches aimed at introducing PM resistance using strategies of reverse genetics.

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