Breaking the bond with Botrytis: a search for genetic resistance in the Rosaceae family

Project: PhD

Project Details

Description

Botrytis cinerea, an ascomycete fungus of the Sclerotiniaceae family is ranked as one of the most devastating plant pathogenic fungi in the world. It is a generalist fungus with a broad host range up to 1400 species, being able to infect nearly all agriculturally important crops including lettuce, tomato, apple, strawberry, rose and many more. Botrytis is considered a necrotrophic fungus, which means that it actively kills plant tissue in order to feed. High humidity promotes infection and major problems with Botrytis occur both pre- and postharvest. Currently no effective resistance against Botrytis is found yet, and while known QTL’s correlate to a reduction of susceptibility, only quantitative effects are observed. While there is a clear lack of gene-for-gene R-gene resistance, a potential effective source of resistance could be Susceptibility genes. Susceptibility genes are plant genes that a pathogen relies on during infection. By removing the plant susceptibility genes, infection with the pathogen becomes hampered or impossible. Because Botrytis has such a broad-host range, it is expected that these susceptibility genes are present and conserved in most host species. While removing susceptibility genes sounds ideal, the major downside of susceptibility genes is that these often are well-conserved household genes in a plant, of which removal leads to unwanted pleiotropic effects like reduction in quality and yield. In polyploids where there are multiple allelic variants present as opposed to diploids, it is hypothesized that allelic dosage effects of S-genes could influence Botrytis infection, while reducing pleiotropic S-gene knockout effects. The main aim of this project is to test this concept of susceptibility genes as an effective source of resistance in the Rosaceae family, specifically for the polyploid species Strawberry and Rose. Firstly, a robust and consistent Botrytis disease assay for high-throughput phenotyping is designed to be implemented at the involved breeding companies. Secondly, S-genes known from literature and new unexplored candidates are screened for effectiveness against Botrytis. Lastly, effective candidate S-gene targets are genetically screened to determine allelic dosage effects in (more or less) resistant or susceptible cultivars.
StatusActive
Effective start/end date1/06/22 → …

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