Verticillium spp. are destructive soilborne fungal pathogens that cause vascular wilt diseases in a wide range of plant species. Verticillium wilts are particularly notorious, and genetic resistance in crop plants is the most favorable means of disease control. In a gain-of-function screen using an activation-tagged Arabidopsis mutant collection, we identified four mutants, A1 to A4, which displayed enhanced resistance toward the vascular wilt species Verticillium dahliae, V. albo-atrum and V. longisporum but not to Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. raphani. Further testing revealed that mutant A2 displayed enhanced Ralstonia solanacearum resistance, while mutants A1 and A3 were more susceptible toward Pseudomonas syringae pv. tomato. Identification of the activation tag insertion site in the A1 mutant revealed an insertion in close proximity to the gene encoding AHL19, which was constitutively expressed in the mutant. AHL19 knock-out alleles were found to display enhanced Verticillium susceptibility whereas overexpression of AHL19 resulted in enhanced Verticillium resistance, showing that AHL19 acts as a positive regulator of plant defense.
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