To defend themselves, plants have evolved a surveillance system consisting of single dominant resistance (R) genes and a more generic pathogen associated molecular pattern (PAMP) recognition system.
Recently, it has been shown that R proteins are transported into the nucleus and that R gene mediated resistance and PAMP triggered basal defence can be linked by the interaction of R proteins with WRKY transcription factors in the nucleus. Overexpression of the WRKY transcription factors suppresses R gene specific resistance to powdery mildew and silencing of the WRKY transcription factors resulted in enhanced basal defense.
Thus, the two pathways converge in the nucleus and the R gene triggered pathway seems very short, which makes the nucleus the centre court for innovative disease resistance breeding. The objective of this project is to use R proteins as baits to identify for Solanaceous crops a set of regulatory proteins, most probably transcription factors, from the nucleus that can be explored as leads to select allelic variants that confer enhanced basal disease resistance to a wide range of pathogens.