Pattern recognition receptors: discovery function and application in crops for durable disease control

Lead Research Organisation: National Inst of Agricultural Botany
Department Name: Centre for Research

Abstract

Plant diseases seriously limit the production of crops in European agriculture. The diseases can be controlled by chemicals, but ways to reduce chemical inputs are being sought. Sustainable agricultural methods are therefore placing increased emphasis on the genetic potential of plants to control pathogens. Resistance genes have been widely used in plant breeding to control diseases. However, pathogens readily evolve and mutate, which results in the 'break-down' of resistance genes in the field. Thus, an alternative, more durable form of resistance is required in sustainable agriculture. Recently, fundamental work with the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana has led to the discovery of a new class of proteins called Pattern Recognition Receptors (PRR's) which recognise essential conserved pathogen molecules that cannot be mutated or lost. These PRR's represent the first line of defence against potential pathogens, and offer the prospect of durable resistance to a broad range of diseases. This project advances our knowledge about PRR's so that it can be applied to crop plant species. We will concentrate on cereals, brassica and grapevine, and focus on PRR's that recognise the fungi and oomycetes which are the major pathogens of these crops. We will identify novel molecules from important crop pathogens that induce this first line of defence in plants. We will also look for new PRR's, both in Arabidopsis and crop plants, and investigate developmental and environmental effects on their performance. We will also test whether known PRR's function when transformed into crop plants. This is a joint project between European research groups in UK, Germany, Holland and France, and also involves collaboration with a seed company. The work will enable us to evaluate the potential of PRR's in breeding to provide durable disease control, so reducing the need for agrochemicals and benefitting the environment.

Technical Summary

The aim of this proposal is to advance fundamental discoveries about the nature and function of PRRs so that the knowledge can be applied into crops, e.g. wheat, barley, grapevine and brassica spp. We would like to maintain the momentum of fundamental research on PRRs, leading to the discovery of new receptors and their associated proteins required for function. In addition, we will augment our discovery programme for new PAMPs, concentrating especially on those from fungi and oomycetes. We will also initiate research into PRRs in crops, investigating the range of PAMP responses in existing germplasm, the influence of the growing environment on them and whether newly identified PRRs recognising novel PAMP's can be transformed directly into crops. The project relies on significant interaction between all members in the consortium.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description 1. 126 confirmed transgenic wheat plants for 4 constructs permitting assessment of the phenotypic consequences of expression of heterologous PAMP receptor proteins and mis-expression of endogenous wheat PAMP receptors to be examined.



2. An average transformation efficiency of 10% was maintained in the course of these experiments.
Exploitation Route Demonstration of a possible future role for biotechnology in reducing pesticide inputs and safeguarding food supplies. Ongoing studies by our partners at JIC of how the immune responses of these transgenic plants have been altered will give useful insight into the practical possibilities to enhance PAMP receptor function to optimise disease resistance profile in crops (wheat in this instance). The results will be communicated to plant breeders who would licence the relevant technologies and bring to the market in the form of varieties with improved resistance.
Sectors Agriculture/ Food and Drink

 
Title Production of transgenic wheat plants using an CEBiP RNAi construct, pRMH006 
Description 32 transgenic wheat plants produced using an CEBiP RNAi construct, pRMH006. These plants were transferred to JIC, 2011 
Type Of Material Biological samples 
Year Produced 2011 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Materials are still being analysed 
 
Title Production of transgenic wheat plants using an EFR overexpression construct, pActEFR 
Description Production of 30 transformed wheat plants using an EFR overexpression construct, pActEFR. These plants were transferred to JIC, 2009. 
Type Of Material Biological samples 
Year Produced 2009 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Manuscript submitted for publication, 2014 
 
Title Production of transgenic wheat plants using an HvRNR8 overexpression construct, pEW252-RNR8. 
Description 38 transgenic wheat plants produced using an HvRNR8 overexpression construct, pEW252-RNR8. These plants were transferred to JIC, 2012 
Type Of Material Biological samples 
Year Produced 2012 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact materials are still being analysed 
 
Title Production of transgenic wheat plants using an RNR8 RNAi construct, pEW244-RNR8 
Description 34 transgenic wheat plants produced using an RNR8 RNAi construct, pEW244-RNR8. These plants were transferred to JIC, 2012 
Type Of Material Biological samples 
Year Produced 2012 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact materials are still under analysis 
 
Title Production of transgenic wheat plants using an CERK overexpression construct, pActCERK 
Description 30 transgenic wheat plants produced using an CERK overexpression construct, pActCERK. These plants were transferred to JIC, 2008 
Type Of Material Biological samples 
Year Produced 2008 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Research with these materials os ongoing