Evidence for Allele-Specific Levels of Enhanced Susceptibility of Wheat mlo Mutants to the Hemibiotrophic Fungal Pathogen Magnaporthe oryzae pv. Triticum

Barley mlo mutants are well known for their profound resistance against powdery mildew disease. Recently, mlo mutant plants were generated in hexaploid bread wheat (Triticum aestivum) with the help of transgenic (transcription-activator-like nuclease, TALEN) and non-transgenic (targeted induced local lesions in genomes, TILLING) biotechnological approaches. While full-gene knockouts in the three wheat Mlo (TaMlo) homoeologs, created via TALEN, confer full resistance to the wheat powdery mildew pathogen (Blumeria graminis f.sp. tritici), the currently available TILLING-derived Tamlo missense mutants provide only partial protection against powdery mildew attack. Here, we studied the infection phenotypes of TALEN- and TILLING-derived Tamlo plants to the two hemibiotrophic pathogens Zymoseptoria tritici, causing Septoria leaf blotch in wheat, and Magnaporthe oryzae pv. Triticum (MoT), the causal agent of wheat blast disease. While Tamlo plants showed unaltered outcomes upon challenge with Z. tritici, we found evidence for allele-specific levels of enhanced susceptibility to MoT, with stronger powdery mildew resistance correlated with more invasive growth by the blast pathogen. Surprisingly, unlike barley mlo mutants, young wheat mlo mutant plants do not show undesired pleiotropic phenotypes such as spontaneous callose deposits in leaf mesophyll cells or signs of early leaf senescence. In conclusion, our study provides evidence for allele-specific levels of enhanced susceptibility of Tamlo plants to the hemibiotrophic wheat pathogen MoT.


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