Phytophthora infestans, the causal agent of late blight, is a major threat to commercial potato production worldwide. Significant costs are required for crop protection to secure yield. Many dominant genes for resistance (R-genes) to potato late blight have been identified, and some of these R-genes have been applied in potato breeding. However, the P. infestans population rapidly accumulates new virulent strains that render R-genes ineffective. Here we introduce a new class of resistance which is based on the loss-of-function of a susceptibility gene (S-gene) encoding a product exploited by pathogens during infection and colonization. Impaired S-genes primarily result in recessive resistance traits in contrast to recognition-based resistance that is governed by dominant R-genes. In Arabidopsis thaliana, many S-genes have been detected in screens of mutant populations. In the present study, we selected 11 A. thalianaS-genes and silenced orthologous genes in the potato cultivar Desiree, which is highly susceptible to late blight. The silencing of five genes resulted in complete resistance to the P. infestans isolate Pic99189, and the silencing of a sixth S-gene resulted in reduced susceptibility. The application of S-genes to potato breeding for resistance to late blight is further discussed.
- Late blight
- Susceptibility gene