Improvement of poplar pathogen response und mycorrhization by modification of LysM proteins
Poplar perceive fungi via chitin receptors that recognize a particular pathogen-associated molecular pattern. The perception of chitin triggers an immune response in poplar that can lead to resistance against the invader. Also fitness of poplar should be increased by enhancement of mycorrhization.
Poplar is grown in short rotation plantations for bioenergy production. During the entire time, the plantation is constantly exposed to various fungal pathogens, that can cause severe damages to the trees. Most of these harmful fungal pathogens in poplar are biotrophic rust fungi of the genus Melampsora. In particular, the cosmopolitan fungal species M. larici-populina is the largest threat for poplar plantations, causing annual growth losses of up to 50 percent.
Plants perceive fungi via chitin receptors that recognize a particular pathogen-associated molecular pattern. Essential components of these chitin-receptors are lysine motif "receptor-like-kinases "(LysM-RLKs). Analyses of this "chitin-signalling" in dicotyledonous plants reveal that enzymatically active and inactive LysM-RLKs need to interact with each other to form a functional receptor. The perception of chitin triggers an immune response in plants that can lead to resistance against the invader. On the other hand, fungal symbionts have to bypass or suppress this immune response, to achieve the establishment of a mycorrhization. In this respect, LysM-effectors which could be considered as modulators of the immune response can play an important role in the whole process. Further, the communication between the plant and the mycorrhizal fungus is facilitated by Myc factors, which are perceived by LysM receptors of the host.
In this project, we want to identify genes coding for LysM-RLKs receptors in poplar and LysM effectors in the mycorrhizal fungus Laccaria. These genes will be functionally characterized and tested in poplar to improve the immune response and simultaneously the mycorrhization potential of poplar. For this, we both will generate transgenic lines and apply the CRISPR / Cas9-technology for a targeted modification of selected LysM-RLKs receptor genes.
10.2016 - 9.2019
Project status: ongoing