Caius M. T.
1Monsanto Company, 700 North Chesterfield Village Parkway, Chesterfield, MO 63198, U.S.A.; 2AgBiotech Center, Cook College, Rutgers University, P.O. Box 231, New Brunswick, NJ 08903-0231, U.S.A.
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Accepted 28 March 1997.
The lesion-mimic mutants of certain plants display necrotic lesions resembling those of the hypersensitive response and activate local and systemic defense responses in the absence of pathogens. We have engineered a lesion-mimic phenotype in transgenic Russet Burbank potato plants through constitutive expression of a bacterio-opsin (bO) proton pump derived from Halobacterium halobium. Transgenic potato plants exhibiting a lesion-mimic phenotype had increased levels of salicylic acid and overexpressed several pathogenesis-related messenger RNAs, all hallmarks of systemic acquired resistance (SAR). The lesion-mimic plants also displayed enhanced resistance to the US1 isolate (A1 mating type) of a fungal pathogen, Phytophthora infestans, a causal agent of late blight disease. In contrast, little resistance was observed against the US8 isolate (A2 mating type) of this pathogen. Furthermore, a majority of the transgenic plants displaying the lesion-mimic phenotype had increased susceptibility to potato virus X. The tubers of these plants were not resistant to the bacterial pathogen Erwinia carotovora. These results indicate that expression of bO can result in the activation of defense responses in transgenic potato plants and show for the first time that bO expression can confer resistance to a pathogenic fungus. However, our results also demonstrate that like SAR, this “engineered” resistance is likely to be limited to certain pathogens and particular cultivars.
© 1997 The American Phytopathological Society