Functional genomics of potato-PVY interactions

Client ID: Agencija za raziskovalno dejavnost RS (J1-4268)
Project type: Basic Research and Application Project
Project duration: 2011 - 2014


In nature plants must face numerous environmental factors, including attacks of viruses, bacteria, fungi and other pathogens. Understanding of the plant-pathogen interaction enables selection of efficient strategies for plant protection therefore several studies have been carried out in this direction, most of them in model plant Arabidopsis thaliana. Potato virus YNTN causing tuber ring necrosis disease of potato is spread all over Europe, North America and in some parts of Asia. Since it is causing symptoms on plantlets as well as on tubers, it diminishes the crop yield and significantly lowers its quality. Although it has been shown that different potato cultivars are differentially susceptible to the virus, the mechanisms underlying this difference has not been explicitly explained. Our previous research was aimed to find differences in gene expression between differentially sensitive cultivars response to PVY attack. Several genes that might be involved in resistance were identified. These are part of carbohydrates and secondary metabolism, signalization and degradation of proteins and cell wall components.

We will apply functional genomics approach to get novel information on the roles of selected genes in defense response of potato plants following PVYNTN infection. Second goal of the project will be to address the topic of potato−PVY interaction from the perspective of small RNAs (sRNA). The presence of individual sRNAs will be determined by high−throughput cloning, next generation sequencing (NGS) and with other appropriate techniques. Specialized data analysis tools for the identification, annotation and quantification of novel sRNA sequences will be developed and additionally several bioinformatics tools already developed will be used. We will integrate the knowledge already available together with all data obtained from new experiments. For better interpretation and evaluation of integrated results, different visualization approaches (e.g. MapMan, SolCyc) will be used. A complex and systemic approach will enable us to gain a deeper insight in the potato−virus interaction and resistance responses between an important crop plant and its significant pathogen. Moreover, results of the project will give us the basis for identification of possible strategies for plant protection needed to breed virus resistant potato plants. Understanding of interaction will be potentially transferrable to other agriculturally important plants and will support novel strategies for protection of plants against pathogens.