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Tobacco Transgenic for the Flax Rust Resistance Gene L Expresses Allele-Specific Activation of Defense Responses

February 2004 , Volume 17 , Number  2
Pages  224 - 232

Donna Frost , 1 , 3 Heather Way , 2 Paul Howles , 1 Joanne Luck , 1 John Manners , 2 Adrienne Hardham , 3 Jean Finnegan , 1 and Jeff Ellis 1

1CSIRO Plant Industry, Cnr Clunies Ross Street and Barry Drive, Acton ACT 2601, Australia; 2CSIRO Plant Industry, Queensland Bioscience Precinct, 306 Carmody Road, St Lucia QLD 4067, Australia; 3Research School of Biological Sciences, Australian National University, Canberra ACT 0200, Australia

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Accepted 11 October 2003.

Tobacco was transformed with three different alleles (L2, L6, and L10) of the flax rust resistance gene L, a member of the toll interleukin-1 receptor, nucleotide-binding site, leucine-rich repeat (TIR-NBS-LRR) class of plant disease resistance genes. L6 transgenics had a stunted phenotype, expressed several defense response genes constitutively, and had increased resistance to the fungus Cercospora nicotianae and the oomycete Phytophthora parasitica pv. nicotianae. L2 and L10 transgenics, with one exception for L10, did not express these phenotypes, indicating that the activation of tobacco defense responses is L6 allele-specific. The phenotype of the exceptional L10 transgenic plant was associated with the presence of a truncated L10 gene resulting from an aberrant T-DNA integration. The truncated gene consisted of the promoter, the complete TIR region, and 39 codons of the NBS domain fused in-frame to a tobacco retrotransposon-like sequence. A similar truncated L10 gene, constructed in vitro, was transiently expressed in tobacco leaves and gave rise to a strong localized necrotic reaction. Together, these results suggest that defense signaling properties of resistance genes can be expressed in an allele-specific and pathogen-independent manner when transferred between plant genera.

Additional keywords: NBS-LRR resistance genes, plant defense.

© 2004 The American Phytopathological Society