Specific syntaxins, such as Arabidopsis AtPEN1 and its barley ortholog ROR2, play a major role in plant defense against powdery mildews. Indeed, the impairment of these genes results in increased fungal penetration in both host and non-host interactions. In this study, a genome-wide survey allowed the identification of 21 tomato syntaxins. Two of them, named SlPEN1a and SlPEN1b, are closely related to AtPEN1. RNAi-based silencing of SlPEN1a in a tomato line carrying a loss-of-function mutation of the susceptibility gene SlMLO1 led to compromised resistance toward the tomato powdery mildew fungus Oidium neolycopersici. Moreover, it resulted in a significant increase in the penetration rate of the non-adapted powdery mildew fungus Blumeria graminis f. sp. hordei. Codon-based evolutionary analysis and multiple alignments allowed the detection of amino acid residues that are under purifying selection and are specifically conserved in syntaxins involved in plant-powdery mildew interactions. Our findings provide both insights on the evolution of syntaxins and information about their function which is of interest for future studies on plant–pathogen interactions and tomato breeding.
- Blumeria graminis f. sp. hordei
- Mlo resistance
- Non-host resistance
- Oidium neolycopersici
- Tomato syntaxins