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Expression of the Arabidopsis thaliana immune receptor EFR in Medicago truncatula reduces infection by a root pathogenic bacterium, but not nitrogen‐fixing rhizobial symbiosis


Pfeilmeier, Sebastian; George, Jeoffrey; Morel, Arry; Roy, Sonali; Smoker, Matthew; Stransfeld, Lena; Downie, J Allan; Peeters, Nemo; Malone, Jacob G; Zipfel, Cyril (2019). Expression of the Arabidopsis thaliana immune receptor EFR in Medicago truncatula reduces infection by a root pathogenic bacterium, but not nitrogen‐fixing rhizobial symbiosis. Plant Biotechnology Journal, 17(3):569-579.

Abstract

Interfamily transfer of plant pattern recognition receptors (PRRs) represents a promising biotechnological approach to engineer broad‐spectrum, and potentially durable, disease resistance in crops. It is however unclear whether new recognition specificities to given pathogen‐associated molecular patterns (PAMPs) affect the interaction of the recipient plant with beneficial microbes. To test this in a direct reductionist approach, we transferred the Brassicaceae‐specific PRR ELONGATION FACTOR‐THERMO UNSTABLE RECEPTOR (EFR), conferring recognition of the bacterial EF‐Tu protein, from Arabidopsis thaliana to the legume Medicago truncatula. Constitutive EFR expression led to EFR accumulation and activation of immune responses upon treatment with the EF‐Tu‐derived elf18 peptide in leaves and roots. The interaction of M. truncatula with the bacterial symbiont Sinorhizobium meliloti is characterized by the formation of root nodules that fix atmospheric nitrogen. Although nodule numbers were slightly reduced at an early stage of the infection in EFR‐Medicago when compared to control lines, nodulation was similar in all lines at later stages. Furthermore, nodule colonization by rhizobia, and nitrogen fixation were not compromised by EFR expression. Importantly, the M. truncatula lines expressing EFR were substantially more resistant to the root bacterial pathogen Ralstonia solanacearum. Our data suggest that the transfer of EFR to M. truncatula does not impede root nodule symbiosis, but has a positive impact on disease resistance against a bacterial pathogen. In addition, our results indicate that Rhizobium can either avoid PAMP recognition during the infection process, or is able to actively suppress immune signaling.

Abstract

Interfamily transfer of plant pattern recognition receptors (PRRs) represents a promising biotechnological approach to engineer broad‐spectrum, and potentially durable, disease resistance in crops. It is however unclear whether new recognition specificities to given pathogen‐associated molecular patterns (PAMPs) affect the interaction of the recipient plant with beneficial microbes. To test this in a direct reductionist approach, we transferred the Brassicaceae‐specific PRR ELONGATION FACTOR‐THERMO UNSTABLE RECEPTOR (EFR), conferring recognition of the bacterial EF‐Tu protein, from Arabidopsis thaliana to the legume Medicago truncatula. Constitutive EFR expression led to EFR accumulation and activation of immune responses upon treatment with the EF‐Tu‐derived elf18 peptide in leaves and roots. The interaction of M. truncatula with the bacterial symbiont Sinorhizobium meliloti is characterized by the formation of root nodules that fix atmospheric nitrogen. Although nodule numbers were slightly reduced at an early stage of the infection in EFR‐Medicago when compared to control lines, nodulation was similar in all lines at later stages. Furthermore, nodule colonization by rhizobia, and nitrogen fixation were not compromised by EFR expression. Importantly, the M. truncatula lines expressing EFR were substantially more resistant to the root bacterial pathogen Ralstonia solanacearum. Our data suggest that the transfer of EFR to M. truncatula does not impede root nodule symbiosis, but has a positive impact on disease resistance against a bacterial pathogen. In addition, our results indicate that Rhizobium can either avoid PAMP recognition during the infection process, or is able to actively suppress immune signaling.

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Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Department of Plant and Microbial Biology
07 Faculty of Science > Zurich-Basel Plant Science Center
Dewey Decimal Classification:580 Plants (Botany)
Language:English
Date:1 March 2019
Deposited On:06 Mar 2019 15:36
Last Modified:25 Sep 2019 00:23
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, Inc.
ISSN:1467-7644
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1111/pbi.12999

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