University of Cambridge > > Plant Sciences Departmental Seminars > Developing Parasite-Resistant Systems in Tomatoes to Control Infestations of Cuscuta campestris

Developing Parasite-Resistant Systems in Tomatoes to Control Infestations of Cuscuta campestris

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Unlike most autotrophic plants, parasitic plants evolved to have a heterotrophic lifestyle and to steal water and nutrients from their host through specialized parasitic organs called haustoria. Some species of parasitic angiosperms parasitize major crop plants, which causes severe agricultural losses and threatens food security in many regions. Understanding how host plants sense and resist parasitic plants can reveal the underlying mechanisms of various resistance systems and provide the foundation for agricultural improvements. Cuscuta species (dodders) are stem holoparasitic angiosperms, which lack functional leaves and roots. Cuscuta campestris (C. campestris) is one of the most broadly distributed Cuscuta species and has a wide host range, which includes many important vegetable and fruit crops. Domesticated tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) is one species of the crop plants that is vulnerable to C. campestris and suffers up to 70% yield reduction upon Cuscuta infestation; however, some specific Heinz hybrid tomato cultivars are resistant to Cuscuta. Understanding the molecular mechanism of C. campestris haustorium formation and the resistance mechanism in Heinz hybrid tomato cultivars will assist in parasitic weed management and the development of parasitic plant-resistant crops. First, we investigated the transcriptome of six C. campestris tissues and identified LATERAL ORGAN BOUNDARIES DOMAIN 25 (CcLBD25) as a critical regulator in haustorium development. Second, we explored the underlying mechanism and genes involved in the lignin-based defense response in resistant Heinz hybrid tomato cultivars. These resistant Heinz cultivars trigger post-attachment lignification in the stem cortex upon C. campestris infection. Third, we focused on the interface between the host and parasite. C. campestris haustorial tissue and tomato host tissue immediately surrounding haustoria were collected by laser-capture microdissection (LCM) to obtain tissue-resolution RNA -Seq profiles. These profiles were used to identify key genes regulating haustorial development and host responses. These results not only provide an overview of both haustorium development in C. campestris and defense responses in tomato host plants, but also might contribute to developing parasite-resistant crops in agriculture.

This talk is part of the Plant Sciences Departmental Seminars series.

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