Mechanisms responsible for different susceptibility of grapevine varieties to flavescence dorée

Flavescence dorée (FD) is the most serious grapevine yellows disease in Europe. It is caused by phytoplasmas which are transmitted from grapevine to grapevine by the leafhopper Scaphoideus titanus. Differences in susceptibility among grapevine varieties suggest the existence of specific genetic features associated with resistance to the phytoplasma and/or possibly with its vector. In this work, RNA-Seq was used to compare early transcriptional changes occurring during the three-trophic interaction between the phytoplasma, its vector and the grapevine, represented by two different cultivars, one very susceptible to the disease and the other scarcely susceptible. The comparative analysis of the constitutive transcriptomic profiles suggests the existence of passive defense strategies against the insect and/or the phytoplasma in the scarcely-susceptible cultivar. Moreover, the attack by the infective vector on the scarcely-susceptible variety prompted immediate and substantial transcriptomic changes that led to the rapid erection of further active defenses. On the other hand, in the most susceptible variety the response was delayed and mainly consisted of the induction of phytoalexin synthesis. Surprisingly, the jasmonic acid- and ethylene-mediated defense reactions, activated by the susceptible cultivar following FD-free insect feeding, were not detected in the presence of the phytoplasma-infected vector. The comparison of the transcriptomic response in two grapevine varieties with different levels of susceptibility to FD highlighted both passive and active defense mechanisms against the vector and/or the pathogen in the scarcely-susceptible variety, as well as the capacity of the phytoplasmas to repress the defense reaction against the insect in the susceptible variety.

Authors: N. Bertazzon*, P. Bagnaresi, V. Forte, E. Mazzucotelli, L. Filippin, D. Guerra, A. Zechini, L. Cattivelli, S. Casarin, E. Angelini

CREA -Centro di Ricerca Viticoltura ed Enologia- 31015 Conegliano (TV)
CREA -Centro di Ricerca Genomica e Bioinformatica- 29017 Fiorenzuola D’Arda (PC)

*Email: nadia.bertazzon@crea.gov.it

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