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Oral: Host Plant Resistance


Characterization of Arabidopsis Defense-related Gene Homologues in Tomato and Strawberry
J. PEREIRA (1), K. Silva (2), M. Garald (3), J. Jeffrey (3), Z. Mou (3) (1) University of Florida, U.S.A.; (2) Salve Regina University, U.S.A.; (3) University of Florida, U.S.A.

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The United States is the largest strawberry producer, and second in tomato. Yield of these crops is threatened by a number of diseases. Durable measures for disease management have been difficult to develop. One strategy that is being pursued is utilizing defense-related genes from Arabidopsis thaliana and their homologues in other plants. The Arabidopsis Elongator complex plays an important role in plant immunity. Elongator is not specifically involved in pathogen recognition, subsequently, it may provide durable resistance. Our results show that overexpressing Arabidopsis Elongator genes in tomato and strawberry improves resistance to several bacterial and fungal pathogens. The predicted tomato and strawberry Elongator genes are highly homologous to those of Arabidopsis. Importantly, the tomato and strawberry Elongator gene homologues are able to complement the morphological and defense phenotypes in corresponding Arabidopsis Elongator mutants, indicating that they are functional. Generating transgenic plants with broad-spectrum disease resistance would be a promising alternative to conventional methods. However, recently there has been a strong anti-GMO propaganda aiming to reach the public. Since the tomato and strawberry Elongator gene homologues are functional, they could be utilized to generate tomato and strawberry plants with increased disease resistance, using alternative technologies that are not considered transgenic, such as cisgenesis and intragenesis.