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Open Access Research article

Down-regulation of acetolactate synthase compromises Ol-1- mediated resistance to powdery mildew in tomato

Dongli Gao1, Robin P Huibers12, Annelies EHM Loonen1, Richard GF Visser1, Anne-Marie A Wolters1 and Yuling Bai1*

Author Affiliations

1 Wageningen UR Plant Breeding, P.O. Box 386, 6700 AJ Wageningen, The Netherlands

2 Present address: Enza Zaden Beheer B.V., Haling 1E, 1602 DB Enkhuizen, The Netherlands

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BMC Plant Biology 2014, 14:32  doi:10.1186/1471-2229-14-32

Published: 17 January 2014

Abstract

Background

In a cDNA-AFLP analysis comparing transcript levels between powdery mildew (Oidium neolycopersici)-susceptible tomato cultivar Moneymaker (MM) and near isogenic lines (NILs) carrying resistance gene Ol-1 or Ol-4, a transcript-derived fragment (TDF) M11E69-195 was found to be present in NIL-Ol-1 but absent in MM and NIL-Ol-4. This TDF shows homology to acetolactate synthase (ALS). ALS is a key enzyme in the biosynthesis of branched-chain amino acids valine, leucine and isoleucine, and it is also a target of commercial herbicides.

Results

Three ALS homologs ALS1, ALS2, ALS3 were identified in the tomato genome sequence. ALS1 and ALS2 show high similarity, whereas ALS3 is more divergent. Transient silencing of both ALS1 and ALS2 in NIL-Ol-1 by virus-induced gene silencing (VIGS) resulted in chlorotic leaf areas that showed increased susceptibility to O. neolycopersici (On). VIGS results were confirmed by stable transformation of NIL-Ol-1 using an RNAi construct targeting both ALS1 and ALS2. In contrast, silencing of the three ALS genes individually by RNAi constructs did not compromise the resistance of NIL-Ol-1. Application of the herbicide chlorsulfuron to NIL-Ol-1 mimicked the VIGS phenotype and caused loss of its resistance to On. Susceptible MM and On-resistant line NIL-Ol-4 carrying a nucleotide binding site and leucine rich repeat (NB-LRR) resistance gene were also treated with chlorsulfuron. Neither the susceptibility of MM nor the resistance of NIL-Ol-4 was affected.

Conclusions

ALS is neither involved in basal defense, nor in resistance conferred by NB-LRR type resistance genes. Instead, it is specifically involved in Ol-1-mediated resistance to tomato powdery mildew, suggesting that ALS-induced change in amino acid homeostasis is important for resistance conferred by Ol-1.

Keywords:
Acetolactate synthase; Oidium neolycopersici; Resistance; Solanum lycoperisum; Amino acid homeostasis