A new sensitive tool for the efficient quantification of plant disease susceptibility

While several biology techniques have undergone significant technical advances that have allowed their high-throughput implementation, assessing the resistance levels of plant varieties to microbial pathogens remains an arduous and time-consuming task. In response to this, Pujara and collaborators took advantage of the naturally occurring luminescence of a deep-sea shrimp to engineer a light-producing bacterial reporter that allows the quantification of plant resistance levels through imaging.

The Nanoluc luciferase (NL) from Oplophorus gracilirostris is a small protein characterized by its high stability and strong brightness. The researchers exploited these features to produce a light-emitting bacterial strain from the Pseudomonas syringae species, a plant pathogen. Because plant pathogens reproduce at a higher pace in susceptible compared to resistant hosts, susceptible plants were expected to produce more light when infected with a controlled amount of the luminescent pathogen.

This novel quantification method was compared with conventional culture-based techniques, showing a high correlation between the outcomes of both approaches, indicating the robustness of the newly developed tool and the potential of this technology for other uses and applications.

"Our high throughput imaging-based resistance assay will provide plant pathologists and breeders with a long-sought tool to screen an unprecedented number of plants to identify resistance traits that could fight a potential future pandemic," explained Hong-Gu Kang, the researcher leading this project.

Read more about this technical advance in the fully open access MPMI journal. This article has been through peer-review but has not yet been edited and formatted.

Read the complete article at www.eurekalert.org.

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