Genetic and environmental control of the Verticillium syndrome in Arabidopsis thaliana

Häffner, Eva; Karlovsky, Petr; Diederichsen, Elke
January 2010
BMC Plant Biology;2010, Vol. 10, p235
Academic Journal
Background: Verticillium spp. are major pathogens of dicotyledonous plants such as cotton, tomato, olive or oilseed rape. Verticillium symptoms are often ambiguous and influenced by development and environment. The aim of the present study was to define disease and resistance traits of the complex Verticillium longisporum syndrome in Arabidopsis thaliana (L.) Heynh. A genetic approach was used to determine genetic, developmental and environmental factors controlling specific disease and resistance traits and to study their interrelations. Results: A segregating F2/F3 population originating from ecotypes 'Burren' (Bur) and 'Landsberg erecta' (Ler) was established. Plants were root-dip inoculated and tested under greenhouse conditions. The Verticillium syndrome was dissected into components like systemic spread, stunting, development time and axillary branching. Systemic spread of V. longisporum via colonisation of the shoot was extensive in Ler; Bur showed a high degree of resistance against systemic spread. Fungal colonisation of the shoot apex was determined by (a) determining the percentage of plants from which the fungus could be re-isolated and (b) measuring fungal DNA content with quantitative realtime PCR (qPCR). Four quantitative trait loci (QTL) controlling systemic spread were identified for the percentage of plants showing fungal outgrowth, two of these QTL were confirmed with qPCR data. The degree of colonisation by V. longisporum was negatively correlated with development time. QTL controlling development time showed some overlap with QTL for resistance to systemic spread. Stunting depended on host genotype, development time and seasonal effects. Five QTL controlling this trait were identified which did not co-localize with QTL controlling systemic spread. V. longisporum induced increased axillary branching in Bur; two QTL controlling this reaction were found. Conclusions: Systemic spread of V. longisporum in the host as well as resistance to this major disease trait are described for the first time in natural A. thaliana accessions. This creates the possibility to study a major resistance mechanism against vascular pathogens in this model plant and to clone relevant genes of the involved pathways. Stunting resistance and resistance to systemic spread were controlled by different QTL and should be treated as separate traits. Developmental and environmental effects on pathogenesis and resistance need to be considered when designing and interpreting experiments in research and breeding.


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