Transcriptome responses of an ungrafted Phytophthora root rot tolerant avocado (Persea americana) rootstock to flooding and Phytophthora cinnamomi

02 Nov 2016

BACKGROUND : Avocado (Persea americana Mill.) is a commercially important fruit crop worldwide. A major limitation to production is the oomycete Phytophthora cinnamomi, which causes root rot leading to branch-dieback and tree death. The decline of orchards infected with P. cinnamomi occurs much faster when exposed to flooding, even if flooding is only transient. Flooding is a multifactorial stress compromised of several individual stresses, making breeding and selection for tolerant varieties challenging. With more plantations occurring in marginal areas, with imperfect irrigation and drainage, understanding the response of avocado to these stresses will be important for the industry. RESULTS : Maintenance of energy production was found to be central in the response to flooding, as seen by up-regulation of transcripts related to glycolysis and induction of transcripts related to ethanolic fermentation. Energy-intensive processes were generally down-regulated, as evidenced by repression of transcripts related to processes such as secondary cell-wall biosynthesis as well as defence-related transcripts. Aquaporins were found to be down-regulated in avocado roots exposed to flooding, indicating reduced water-uptake under these conditions. CONCLUSIONS : The transcriptomic response of avocado to flooding and P. cinnamomi was investigated utilizing microarray analysis. Differences in the transcriptome caused by the presence of the pathogen were minor compared to transcriptomic perturbations caused by flooding. The transcriptomic response of avocado to flooding reveals a response to flooding that is conserved in several species. This data could provide key information that could be used to improve selection of stress tolerant rootstocks in the avocado industry.