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Overexpression of MdATG18a in Apple Improves Resistance to Diplocarpon mali Infection by Enhancing Antioxidant Activity and Salicylic Acid Levels

Xun Sun, Liuqing Huo, Xin Jia, Runmin Che, Xiaoqing Gong, Ping Wang, Fengwang Ma.

Horticulture Research

DOI 10.1038/s41438-018-0059-5

 

 

Abstract: Marssonina apple blotch, caused by Diplocarpon mali, is one of the most serious diseases of apple. Autophagy plays a key role in pathogen resistance. We previously showed that MdATG18a has a positive influence on drought tolerance. Herein, we describe how overexpression (OE) of MdATG18a enhances resistance to D. mali infection, probably because less H2O2 but more salicylic acid (SA) is accumulated in the leaves of OE apple plants. Expression of chitinase, β-1,3-glucanase, and SA-related marker genes was induced more strongly by D. mali in OE lines. Transcript levels of other important MdATG genes were also drastically increased by D. mali in OE plants, which indicated increased autophagy activities. Taken together, these results demonstrate that OE of MdATG18a enhances resistance to infection by D. mali and plays positive roles in H2O2-scavenging and SA accumulations. Our findings provide important information for designing strategies which could induce autophagy to minimize the impact of this disease on apple production.