An alternative bioassay for Synchytrium endobioticum demonstrates the expression of potato wart resistance in aboveground plant parts



The obligate biotrophic chytrid species Synchytrium endobioticum is the causal agent of potato wart disease. Currently 39 pathotypes have been described based on their interaction with a differential set of potato varieties. Wart resistance and pathotyping is performed using bioassays in which etiolated tuber sprouts are inoculated. Here we describe an alternative method in which aboveground plant parts are inoculated. Susceptible plants produced typical wart symptoms in developing, but not in fully expanded, aboveground organs. Colonization of the host by S endobioticum was verified by screening for resting spores by microscopy and by molecular techniques using TaqMan PCR and RNAseq analysis. When applied to resistant plants, none of these symptoms were detectable. Recognition of S. endobioticum pathotypes by differentially resistant potato varieties was identical in aboveground plant parts and the tuber-based bioassays. This suggests that S. endobioticum resistance genes are expressed both in etiolated “belowground” sprouts and green aboveground organs. RNAseq analysis demonstrated that the symptomatic aboveground materials contain less contaminants compared to resting spores extracted from tuber-based assays. This reduced microbial contamination in the aboveground bioassay could be an important advantage to study this obligate biotrophic plant-pathogen interaction. As wart resistance is active in both below and above ground organs, the aboveground bioassay can potentially speed up screening for S. endobioticum resistance in potato breeding programs as it omits the requirement for tuber formation. In addition, possibilities arise to express S. endobioticum effectors in potato leaves through agroinfiltration, thereby providing additional phenotyping tools for research and breeding.
Date made available31 Mar 2019
PublisherWageningen University & Research


  • Synchytrium endobioticum

Accession numbers

  • PRJEB30662
  • ERP113139

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