The molecular basis of pathogenicity of Neonectria ditissima.

The causal agent of European Canker, Neonectria ditissima, has become a globally important pathogen of apple over recent years. Very little is known about this pathogen at the molecular level. Therefore, this project aims to unmask the components of the pathogen’s genome that modulate virulence in order to understand how virulence is controlled and address whether there are specific differences in host resistance response to isolates of differing virulence. The identification of specific candidate genes controlling pathogen virulence will allow a better understanding of the mechanism of infection. To achieve this, we will:

Assess disease development through screening tests in planta to identify differences in pathogens virulence and host resistances.
Generate a high quality reference genome sequence of one isolate of N. ditissima combining long and short read sequencing technologies.
Sequence isolates of different pathogenicity using short read Illumina sequencing and comparison of the genome sequences to identify sequences variation related with the virulence.
Identify phylogenetic relationships of a global sample of N.ditissima to understand the origin of this pathogen and if there are significant differences between geographically distinct population.
RNA-Seq analysis to identify differentially expressed genes during the infection in a susceptible and resistant cultivar.
Determine the role of these candidate pathogenicity genes through gene disruption techniques.

Antonio Gómez-Cortecero, Richard J. Harrison, and Andrew D. Armitage (2015) Draft Genome Sequence of a European Isolate of the Apple Canker Pathogen Neonectria ditissima. Genome Announcements 3.6 (2015): e01243–15.  DOI: 10.1128/genomeA.01243-15

Antonio Gómez-Cortecero, Robert J. Saville, Reiny W. A. Scheper, Joanna K. Bowen, Hugo Agripino De Medeiros, Jennifer Kingsnorth, Xiangming Xu and Richard J. Harrison (2016) Variation in Host and Pathogen in the Neonectria/Malus Interaction; toward an Understanding of the Genetic Basis of Resistance to European Canker. Frontiers in Plant Science, 7, 1365. DOI: 10.3389/fpls.2016.01365

Principal Investigator: Dr Richard Harrison

Researchers: Antonio Gomez

Funder: AHDB

Duration: 3 years (2015-2018)

Partners: Worldwide Fruit and Plant & Food Research.

Artificial leaf scar inoculation of different apple varieties differing in susceptibility to N. ditissima.

Life cycle of N. ditissima. The diagram shows the two different types of spores produced and the entry points for the infection in the host.

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