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Comparing natural and biotechnology-induced resistance alleles in tomato helps designing rules for efficient genetic resistances to viruses

Design new rules for efficient genetic resistances to viruses
Gauffier C, Lebaron C, Moretti A, Constant C, Moquet F, Bonnet G, Caranta C, Gallois JL.

Developing genetic resistance to pathogens is a major goal for plant breeding. In many crops, the translation initiation factors eIF4E are susceptibility factors to many RNA viruses, including the major group of potyviruses. Based on these host factors, genetic resistances can be developed either by using variants isolated among the crops wild relatives or induced by new biotechnological approaches such as TILLING of CRISPR/Cas9.

By comparing eIF4E natural alleles with non-functional alleles obtained by TILLING technology, we were able to show that the latter are less efficient to drive resistance to viruses. Using genetic and biochemical approaches, we were able to show as-yet-unknown compensatory effects between the plant eIF4E genes, revealed when the major gene eIF4E1 is knocked out. An efficient resistance can be engineered by inactivating several eIF4E genes, but is detrimental to the plant growth (See picture, plant on the right). Our work show that efficient resistances, that will not impair the plant agronomical properties, can only be achieved by using alleles encoding functional eIF4E proteins that the virus cannot recruit, similar to the ones found in the natural diversity.  

This work was partly funded through a PhD grant by three private breeders (Sakata, Gautier Semences and Syngenta).

See also

A TILLING approach to generate broad-spectrum resistance to potyviruses in tomato is hampered by eIF4E gene redundancy. Plant Journal 85: 717–729. lien