Analysis of antifungal resistance phenotypes in transgenic grapevines

Du Plessis, Kari (2012-12)

Thesis (MSc)--Stellenbosch University, 2012.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The latest strategies in the protection of crops against microbial pathogens are rooted in harnessing the natural, highly complex defense mechanisms of plants through genetic engineering to ultimately reduce the application of chemical pesticides. This approach relies on an in-depth understanding of plant-pathogen interactions to develop reasonable strategies for plant improvement. Among the highly specialized defense mechanisms in the plant’s arsenal against pathogen attack, is the de novo production of proteinaceous antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) as part of the plant’s innate immunity. These AMPs are small, cysteine-rich peptides such as plant defensins that are known for their broad-spectrum of antifungal activity. These plant defensin peptides have been found to be present in most, if not all plant species and the defensin encoding genes are over-represented in plant genomes. Most of these defensins are generally the products of single genes, allowing the plant to deliver these molecules relatively rapidly and with minimal energetic expense to the plant. These factors contribute to establishing AMPs as excellent candidates for genetic engineering strategies in the pursuit of alternative crop protection mechanisms. The first antimicrobial peptide identified and isolated from grapevine, Vv-AMP1, was found to be developmentally regulated and exclusively expressed in berries from the onset of ripening. Recombinantly produced Vv-AMP1 showed strong antifungal activity against a wide range of plant pathogenic fungi at remarkably low peptide concentrations in vitro, however, no in planta defense phenotype could thus far be linked to this peptide. In this study, the antifungal activity of Vv-AMP1 constitutively overexpressed in its native host (Vitis vinifera) was evaluated against grapevine-specific necrotrophic and biotrophic fungi. Firstly, a hardened-off genetically characterised transgenic V. vinifera (cv. Sultana) population overexpressing Vv-AMP1 was generated and morphologically characterized. In order to evaluate the in planta functionality of Vv-AMP1 overexpressed in grapevine, this confirmed transgenic population was subjected to antifungal assays with the necrotrophic fungus, B. cinerea and the biotrophic powdery mildew fungus, Erysiphe necator. For the purpose of infection assays with a biotrophic fungus, a method for the cultivation and infection with E. necator was optimized to generate a reproducible pathosystem for this fungus on grapevine. Detached leaf assays according to the optimized method with E. necator revealed programmed cell death (PCD) associated resistance linked to overexpression of Vv-AMP1 that can be compared to that of the highly resistant grapevine species, Muscadinia rotundifolia. Contrastingly, whole-plant infection assays with B. cinerea revealed that Vv-AMP1 overexpression does not confer V. vinifera with elevated resistance against this necrotrophic fungus. An in silico analysis of the transcription of defensin-like (DEFL) genes previously identified in grapevine was included in this study. This analysis revealed putative co-expression of these DEFL genes and other genes in the grapevine genome driven by either tissue- or cultivar specific regulation or the plant’s response to biotic and abiotic stress stimuli. In conclusion, this study contributed to our knowledge regarding Vv-AMP1 and revealed an in planta defense phenotype for this defensin in grapevine. In silico analysis of the DEFL genes in grapevine further revealed conditions driving expression of these genes allowing for inferences to be made regarding the possible biological functions of DEFL peptides in grapevine.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die nuutste strategieë wat deel vorm van die beskerming van plant gewasse teen mikrobiese patogene het hul oorsprong in die inspanning van die natuurlike, hoogs gekompliseerde verdedigingsmeganismes van die plant deur middel van genetiese enginieurswese ten einde die gebruik van chemiese plaagdoders te verlaag. Hierdie benadering maak staat op ‘n in-diepte begrip van plant-patogeen interaksies om verstandige strategieë vir plantverbetering te kan ontwikkel. Van hierdie hoogs-gespesialiseerde verdedigingsmeganismses in die plant se arsenaal teen patogeen aanvalle sluit die de novo produksie van proteinagtige antimikrobiese peptiede (AMPs) in as deel van die plant se ingebore immuunstelsel. Hierdie AMPs is klein, sisteïen-ryke peptiede soos die plant “defensins” en is bekend vir hul breë-spektrum antifungiese aktiwiteit. Hierdie plant defensinpeptiede word aangetref in meeste, indien nie alle plant spesies nie en die defensin koderende gene word oor-verteenwoordig in plant genome. Meeste van hierdie defensins is gewoonlik die produkte van enkele gene wat die plant in staat stel om hierdie molekules relatief spoedig en met minimale energie verbruik in die plant te vorm. Hierdie faktore dra by tot die vestiging van AMPs as uitstekende kandidate vir genetiese ingenieursstrategieë as deel van die strewe na alternatiewe gewasbeskermingsmeganismes. Die eerste antimikrobiese peptied wat geïdentifiseer en geïsoleer is uit wingerd, Vv-AMP1, word beheer deur die ontwikkelingsstadium en word eksklusief uitgedruk in korrels vanaf die aanvang van rypwording. Rekombinant-geproduseerde Vv-AMP1 het sterk antifungiese aktiwiteit getoon teen ‘n wye reeks plantpatogeniese swamme teen merkwaardige lae peptied konsentrasies in vitro, alhoewel geen in planta verdedigingsfenotipe tot dusver gekoppel kon word aan hierdie peptied nie. In hierdie studie was die antifungiese aktiwiteit van Vv-AMP1 wat ooruitgedruk is in sy natuurlike gasheerplant (Vitis vinifera) ge-evalueer teen wingerd-spesifieke nekrotrofiese- en biotrofiese swamme. Eerstens is ‘n afgeharde geneties-gekarakteriseerde transgeniese V. vinifera (cv. Sultana) populasie wat Vv-AMP1 ooruitdruk gegenereer en morfologies gekarakteriseer. Om die in planta funksionaliteit van Vv-AMP1 ooruitgedruk in wingerd te evalueer is hierdie bevestigde transgeniese populasie blootgestel aan antifungiese toetse met die nekrotrofiese swam, B. cinerea en die biotrofiese swam, Erysiphe necator. Vir die doel om infeksiestudies uit te voer met ‘n biotrofiese swam is ‘n metode geoptimiseer vir die kweek en infeksies met E. necator wat gelei het tot ‘n herhaalbare patosisteem vir hierdie swam op wingerd. Blaarstudies, volgens die pas-verbeterde metode vir E. necator infeksies het ‘n geprogrammeerde seldood-geassosieërde weerstand, gekoppel aan die ooruitdrukking van Vv-AMP1 onthul, wat vergelyk kan word met dié van die hoogs-weerstandige wingerdspesie, Muscadinia rotundifolia. Hierteenoor het heel-plant infeksie studies met B. cinerea onthul dat Vv-AMP1 ooruitdrukking geen verhoogde weerstand teen dié nekrotrofiese swam aan V. vinifera bied nie. ‘n In silico analise van die transkripsie van defensin-agtige (DEFL) gene wat vroeër in wingerd geïdentifiseer is, is by hierdie studie ingesluit. Hierdie analise het vermeende gesamentlike uitdrukking van hierdie DEFL gene en ander gene in die wingerd genoom onthul wat aangedryf word deur weefsel- of kultivar-spesifieke regulering of die plant se reaksie tot biotiese en abiotiese stress stimuli. Ten slotte, hierdie resultate het bygedra tot ons kennis in verband met Vv-AMP1 en het ‘n in planta verdedigingsfenotipe vir hierdie defensin in wingerd onthul. In silico analiese van die DEFL gene in wingerd het verder toestande onthul wat die uitdrukking van hierdie gene aandryf wat ons toelaat om aannames te maak ten opsigte van die moontlike biologiese funksies van DEFL peptiede in wingerd en ondersteun die opstel en toets van hipoteses vir die rol en megansimes van aksie van die wingerd defensin familie.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/71621
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