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Article|01 Sep 2021|OPEN
The Arabidopsis pattern recognition receptor EFR enhances fire blight resistance in apple
Stefano Piazza1, Manuela Campa2,1, Valerio Pompili1, Lorenza Dalla Costa1, Umberto Salvagnin 1, Vladimir Nekrasov3,5, Cyril Zipfel3,4 & Mickael Malnoy1,
1Research and Innovation Centre, Fondazione Edmund Mach, San Michele a/ Adige, Italy
2Genetics Department, Faculty of AgriSciences, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa
3The Sainsbury Laboratory, University of East Anglia, Norwich, United Kingdom
4 Institute of Plant and Microbial Biology and Zurich-Basel Plant Science Center, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland
5Present address: Plant Sciences Department, Rothamsted Research, Harpenden, UK

Horticulture Research 8,
Article number: 204 (2021)
doi: 10.1038/hortres.2021.204
Views: 42

Received: 25 Mar 2021
Revised: 28 Jun 2021
Accepted: 05 Jul 2021
Published online: 01 Sep 2021


Fire blight disease, caused by the bacterium Erwinia amylovora (E. amylovora), is responsible for substantial losses in cultivated apples worldwide. An important mechanism of plant immunity is based on the recognition of conserved microbial molecules, named pathogen-associated or microbe-associated molecular patterns (PAMPs or MAMPs), through pattern recognition receptors (PRRs), leading to pattern-triggered immunity (PTI). The interspecies transfer of PRRs represents a promising strategy to engineer broad-spectrum and durable disease resistance in crops. EFR, the Arabidopsis thaliana PRR for the PAMP elf18 derived from the elongation factor thermal unstable (EF-Tu) proved to be effective in improving bacterial resistance when expressed into Solanaceae and other plant species. In this study, we tested whether EFR can affect the interaction of apple with E. amylovora by its ectopic expression in the susceptible apple rootstock M.26. Stable EFR expression led to the activation of PAMP-triggered immune response in apple leaves upon treatment with supernatant of E. amylovora, as measured by the production of reactive oxygen species and the induction of known defense genes. The amount of tissue necrosis associated with E. amylovora infection was significantly reduced in the EFR transgenic rootstock compared to the wild-type. Our results show that the expression of EFR in apple rootstock may be a valuable biotechnology strategy to improve the resistance of apple to fire blight.