Identification and characterisation of genes controlling the resistance response to ascochyta blight (Ascochyta rabiei (Pass.) Labrousse) in chickpea (Cicer arietinum L.)

Coram, T 2006, Identification and characterisation of genes controlling the resistance response to ascochyta blight (Ascochyta rabiei (Pass.) Labrousse) in chickpea (Cicer arietinum L.), Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Applied Sciences, RMIT University.


Document type: Thesis
Collection: Theses

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Title Identification and characterisation of genes controlling the resistance response to ascochyta blight (Ascochyta rabiei (Pass.) Labrousse) in chickpea (Cicer arietinum L.)
Author(s) Coram, T
Year 2006
Abstract Ascochyta blight, caused by Ascochyta rabiei (Pass.) Labrousse, is one of the most destructive diseases of chickpea (Cicer arietinum L.) worldwide. Despite the existence of highly resistant uncultivated genotypes, attempts to develop cultivars with a high level of durable resistance have been unsuccessful. This study investigated the chickpea defence response to A. rabiei using a functional genomics approach, which has the capacity to improve the overall understanding of the coordinated defence response at a molecular level.

An existing cDNA library was used to generate a resource of Expressed Sequence Tags (ESTs) that, after clustering, comprised 516 unigenes. The unigenes were functionally annotated resulting in the identification of 20 specific defence-related unigenes, as well as numerous transcripts with possible involvement in the coordination of defence responses. To explore the expression patterns of the defence-related unigenes in an A. rabiei resistant and susceptible genotype, the unigenes were employed as probes in microarrays. Resulting expression data was analysed to identify differentially expressed unigenes over a time-course after infection. Comparison of the expression profiles from the resistant and susceptible genotype identified three putative genes that were exclusively up-regulated in the resistant genotype, thus may be involved in an effective defence response.

Considering that a defence response can involve hundreds of genes, the entire set of chickpea unigenes were used to construct large-scale microarrays. To supplement the chickpea probes, 156 putative defence-related grasspea (Lathyrus sativus L.) ESTs and 41 lentil (Lens culinaris Med.) Resistance Gene Analogs (RGAs) were also included. Expression profiles for three chickpeas and one wild relative were generated over a time course. 97 differentially expressed ESTs were identified using a robust experimental system that included confirmation by quantitative RT-PCR. The results indicated that genes involved in the active defence response were similar to those governed by R-gene mediated resistance, including the production of reactive oxygen species and the hypersensitive response, down-regulation of 'housekeeping' gene expression, and expression of pathogenesis-related proteins. The comparison between resistant and susceptible genotypes identified certain gene expression 'signatures' that may be predictiv e of resistance.

To further characterise the regulation of potential defence-related genes, the microarray was used to study expression profiles of the three chickpea genotypes (excluding the wild relative) after treatment with the defence signalling compounds, ethylene (E), salicylic acid (SA), and jasmonate (JA). 425 ESTs were differentially expressed, and comparison between genotypes revealed the presence of a wider range of inducible defence responses in resistant genotypes. Linking the results with the previous microarray results indicated the presence of other pathogen-specific signalling mechanisms in addition to E, SA and JA. The lower arsenal of defence-related gene expression observed in the susceptible genotype may be a result of 'breaks' in the pathways of defence-related gene activation.

To draw together the findings of all experiments, a model was constructed for a hypothetical mechanism of chickpea resistance to A. rabiei. The model was synthesised based on the evidence gathered in this study and previously documented defence mechanisms in chickpea, and identified signal transduction as a key to resistance.
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Institution RMIT University
School, Department or Centre Applied Sciences
Keyword(s) Chickpea
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