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Identification and characterization of the Non-race specific Disease Resistance 1 (NDR1) orthologous protein in coffee

Jean-Luc Cacas14, Anne-Sophie Petitot1, Louis Bernier2, Joan Estevan1, Geneviève Conejero3, Sébastien Mongrand4 and Diana Fernandez1*

Author Affiliations

1 UMR 186 - IRD/CIRAD/UM2 Résistance des Plantes aux Bio-agresseurs, Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD), BP64501, 34394 Montpellier Cedex 5, France

2 Centre d'Étude de la Forêt, Université Laval, Québec (QC), G1V 0A6, Canada

3 Plate-forme d'Histocytologie et d'Imagerie Cellulaire Végétale, Biochimie et Physiologie Moléculaire des Plantes-Développement et Amélioration des Plantes, INRA-CNRS-CIRAD, TA96/02 Avenue Agropolis, 34398 Montpellier, France

4 Laboratoire de Biogenèse Membranaire (LBM), UMR 5200, CNRS-Université Victor Ségalen, Bordeaux 2, Case 92, 146 Rue Léo Saignat, 33076 Bordeaux Cedex, France

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BMC Plant Biology 2011, 11:144  doi:10.1186/1471-2229-11-144

Published: 24 October 2011



Leaf rust, which is caused by the fungus Hemileia vastatrix (Pucciniales), is a devastating disease that affects coffee plants (Coffea arabica L.). Disadvantages that are associated with currently developed phytoprotection approaches have recently led to the search for alternative strategies. These include genetic manipulations that constitutively activate disease resistance signaling pathways. However, molecular actors of such pathways still remain unknown in C. arabica. In this study, we have isolated and characterized the coffee NDR1 gene, whose Arabidopsis ortholog is a well-known master regulator of the hypersensitive response that is dependent on coiled-coil type R-proteins.


Two highly homologous cDNAs coding for putative NDR1 proteins were identified and cloned from leaves of coffee plants. One of the candidate coding sequences was then expressed in the Arabidopsis knock-out null mutant ndr1-1. Upon a challenge with a specific strain of the bacterium Pseudomonas syringae (DC3000::AvrRpt2), analysis of both macroscopic symptoms and in planta microbial growth showed that the coffee cDNA was able to restore the resistance phenotype in the mutant genetic background. Thus, the cDNA was dubbed CaNDR1a (standing for Coffea arabica Non-race specific Disease Resistance 1a). Finally, biochemical and microscopy data were obtained that strongly suggest the mechanistic conservation of the NDR1-driven function within coffee and Arabidopsis plants. Using a transient expression system, it was indeed shown that the CaNDR1a protein, like its Arabidopsis counterpart, is localized to the plasma membrane, where it is possibly tethered by means of a GPI anchor.


Our data provide molecular and genetic evidence for the identification of a novel functional NDR1 homolog in plants. As a key regulator initiating hypersensitive signalling pathways, CaNDR1 gene(s) might be target(s) of choice for manipulating the coffee innate immune system and achieving broad spectrum resistance to pathogens. Given the potential conservation of NDR1-dependent defense mechanisms between Arabidopsis and coffee plants, our work also suggests new ways to isolate the as-yet-unidentified R-gene(s) responsible for resistance to H. vastatrix.