Elicitin recognition and resistance to Phytophthora infestans in potato

From the report “Elicitin recognition confers enhanced resistance to Phytophthora infestans in potato“, from Juan Du, Estelle Verzaux, Angela Chaparro-Garcia, Gerard Bijsterbosch, L. C. Paul Keizer, Ji Zhou, Thomas W. H. Liebrand, Conghua Xie, Francine Govers, Silke Robatzek, Edwin A. G. van der Vossen, Evert Jacobsen, Richard G. F. Visser, Sophien Kamoun & Vivianne G. A. A. Vleeshouwers, published in Nature Plants 1

Potato late blight, caused by the pathogen Phytophthora infestans, is a major threat to global food security. All late blight resistance genes identified to date belong to the coiled-coil, nucleotide-binding, leucine-rich repeat class of intracellular immune receptors. However, virulent races of the pathogen quickly evolved to evade recognition by these cytoplasmic immune receptors. Researchers demonstrate that the receptor-like protein ELR (elicitin response) from the wild potato Solanum microdontum mediates extracellular recognition of the elicitin domain, a molecular pattern that is conserved in Phytophthora species.

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ELR associates with the immune co-receptor BAK1/SERK3 and mediates broad-spectrum recognition of elicitin proteins from several Phytophthora species, including four diverse elicitins from P. infestans.

In a process of cisgenesis, to transfer of ELR into cultivated potato resulted in enhanced resistance to P. infestans. Pyramiding cell surface pattern recognition receptors with intracellular immune receptors could maximize the potential of generating a broader and potentially more durable resistance to this devastating plant pathogen.