14 June 2024
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Understanding Necrotrophic Pathogens in Ripe Fruit

Ripe fruits are a delectable treat enjoyed by many, but did you know that they are more susceptible to necrotrophic pathogens than unripe fruits? In a recent study published in Molecular Plant, researchers have unraveled the mystery behind this phenomenon. Necrotrophic pathogens are a type of pathogen that feeds on dead tissue, causing decay in plants. Understanding why ripe fruit is more vulnerable to these pathogens sheds light on how to protect our fruits and crops.

The study focused on tomatoes, a popular fruit that undergoes significant changes during ripening. Ethylene (ET) is a key ripening signal in tomatoes, while jasmonate (JA) plays a crucial role in defense against pathogens. The research team, led by Prof. Li Chuanyou from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, discovered that a specific transcription factor called EIL is central to the ripening process. EIL interacts with other proteins to regulate gene expression and promote fruit quality formation.

The Battle Between Ripening and Defense

As fruits ripen, they produce higher levels of ET, signaling the ripening process. However, the levels of JA, the defense hormone, decrease significantly during ripening. This decrease in JA leads to a reduction in defense responses against pathogens. The researchers found that EIL directly activates a gene called CYP94C1, which inactivates the active form of JA, known as JA-Ile. This process reduces the effectiveness of JA-mediated defense, creating a vulnerable window for necrotrophic pathogens to attack.

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Published on: February 10, 2022 Description: Necrotrophic symptoms occur when the pathogen kills the cell as it is entering and then removes the nutrients from the cells.
Necrotic plant diseases

The research team’s findings highlight the intricate balance between ripening and defense mechanisms in plants. It appears that plants use JA to protect themselves before seed maturation, switching to ET to promote quality formation and suppress JA-mediated defense after seed maturation. This delicate interplay ensures successful seed dispersal in nature but poses challenges for postharvest fruit preservation.

Strategies to Enhance Fruit Resistance

Despite the susceptibility of ripe fruit to necrotrophic pathogens, researchers have developed a promising strategy to enhance fruit resistance without compromising quality. By knocking out the CYP94C1 gene, which inactivates JA, the researchers observed improved resistance to necrotrophs in tomatoes. Importantly, this genetic modification did not impact fruit ripening or quality attributes such as sugar content, acidity, or nutrient levels.

The discovery of the central role of CYP94C1 in linking ripening and defense pathways opens up new possibilities for breeding crops with enhanced resistance to pathogens. By targeting specific genes involved in the ripening-defense balance, researchers can develop crops that are more resilient to disease while maintaining desirable fruit characteristics.

Implications for Agriculture and Food Security

The implications of this research extend beyond tomatoes to other fruit crops facing challenges from necrotrophic pathogens. By understanding the molecular mechanisms that govern fruit susceptibility to pathogens, scientists can develop targeted solutions to protect crops and reduce postharvest losses. Improving fruit resistance to necrotrophs is crucial for ensuring food security and sustainable agriculture practices.

The study sheds light on the complex interplay between ripening and defense mechanisms in plants, particularly in the context of susceptibility to necrotrophic pathogens in ripe fruit. By uncovering the role of key genes like CYP94C1, researchers have paved the way for innovative strategies to enhance fruit resistance while preserving quality. This knowledge has the potential to revolutionize crop breeding and contribute to more resilient and productive agricultural systems in the future.

Links to additional Resources:

1. https://www.apsnet.org 2. https://www.nature.com 3. https://www.sciencedirect.com

Related Wikipedia Articles

Topics: Tomato ripening, Ethylene signaling, Necrotrophic pathogens

Ripening is a process in fruits that causes them to become more palatable. In general, fruit becomes sweeter, less green, and softer as it ripens. Even though the acidity of fruit increases as it ripens, the higher acidity level does not make the fruit seem tarter. This effect is attributed...
Read more: Ripening

Ethylene signaling pathway
Ethylene signaling pathway is a signal transduction in plant cells to regulate important growth and developmental processes. Acting as a plant hormone, the gas ethylene is responsible for promoting the germination of seeds, ripening of fruits, the opening of flowers, the abscission (or shedding) of leaves and stress responses. It...
Read more: Ethylene signaling pathway

Hypersensitive response
Hypersensitive response (HR) is a mechanism used by plants to prevent the spread of infection by microbial pathogens. HR is characterized by the rapid death of cells in the local region surrounding an infection and it serves to restrict the growth and spread of pathogens to other parts of the...
Read more: Hypersensitive response

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