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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: USING FUNCTIONAL AND APPLIED GENOMICS TO IMPROVE STRESS AND DISEASE RESISTANCE IN FRUIT TREES

Location: Appalachian Fruit Research Laboratory: Innovative Fruit Production, Improvement and Protection

2007 Annual Report


1a.Objectives (from AD-416)
Utilize functional genomic/proteomic approaches to identify genes or proteins in fruit crops that confer resistance or susceptibility to freezing or water stress, fire blight, and Zn deficiency. Develop and evaluate new transgenic technologies needed to control gene flow and expression in transgenic apple trees. Evaluate genetically engineered rootstocks as (1) a means of enhancing resistance to diseases and nutrient deficiencies, and (2) a means of indirectly influencing gene expression in the scion for the improvement of performance or quality.


1b.Approach (from AD-416)
Transcript profiling will be used to identify genes associated with environmental stress, fire blight resistance, and susceptibility, while proteomic approaches will be used to better understand the relationship between gene expression and cognate protein levels. RNAi-induced gene siliencing will be used to elucidate the role of specific candidate genes in resistance and adaptation. The ability to use genetically-engineered rootstocks of apple for scion trait modification will be explored by investigating graft-transmissible gene silencing, as well as, overexpression of zinc transporter genes for improving the efficiency of zinc uptake and transport. The use of floral-specific promoters to confine and regulate the expression of dehydrin genes (responsible for cold and dehydration tolerance) to flowers of fruit crops in order to improve frost tolerance will also be investigated.


3.Progress Report
1931-21000-016-02T - Trust Agreement with the Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission. Transgenic apple scions and rootstocks were developed with gene silencing traits. Progress is monitored through annual meetings with representatives of Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission and written reports of significant accomplishments, research results, potential impacts, and budget summary. For a complete report on the progress of this agreement, see the report for 1931-21000-016-02T.

1931-21000-016-03R - Reimbursable Cooperative Agreement with The Pennsylvania State University, Cornell University, and the USDA-CSREES National Research Initiative (NRI). ESTs associated with fire blight infection were identified. Project is monitored through monthly conference calls among the project members. For a complete report on the progress of this agreement, see the report for 1931-21000-016-03R.

1931-21000-016-04G - Assistance-type Cooperative Agreement with the Pennsylvania State University. Genes associated with fire blight infection were identified. Progress is monitored through monthly conference calls among the project members. For a complete report on the progress of this agreement, see the report for 1931-21000-016-04G.

1931-21000-016-05G - Assistance-type Cooperative Agreement with Cornell University. Gene expression of fire blight resistant and susceptible cultivars was measured. Progress is monitored through monthly conference calls among the project members. For a complete report on the progress of this agreement, see the report for 1931-21000-016-05G.

1931-21000-016-06S - Specific Cooperative Agreeement with the University of Illinois. The objective of this agreement is to produce a 40,000 gene apple microarray to be used for functional genomic studies in the Rosaceae. Progress: The first printing of the microarray was completed in July, 2007. The quality of the array is currently being assessed by both parties. Progess is monitored through bi-weekly to monthly phone conferences to deal with critical questions regarding the design, printing, and quality analysis of the microarray. For a complete report on the progress of this agreement, see the report for 1931-21000-016-06S.

For a complete report on the progress of these subordinate projects, see the corresponding annual report.


4.Accomplishments
TITLE: Identification of Photoperiod and Low Temperature Regulated Genes in Peach. PROBLEM: The detrimental effects of low temperature stress (freezing injury) on the health and productivity of fruit trees result in significant economic losses to growers and higher prices for consumers. Cold hardiness in fruit trees is regulated by a combination of daylength (photoperiod) and exposure to low, non-freezing temperatures, and there is a need to discern how these environmental cues impact gene expression. ACCOMPLISHMENT: We conducted a global study of gene expression in peach trees and identified over 150 genes that respond to either low temperature or short daylength, or to a combination of the two. Dehydrin and Cold Binding Factor (CBF) genes have now been selected for functional studies in order to determine their role in regulating levels of cold hardiness. Expressed Sequence Tags (ESTs) of these sequenced genes have been placed in a public database (NCBI) and are available through publications. IMPACT: The results of these studies can be utilized by other scientists conducting cold hardiness research in fruit crops and specific genes may serve as candidates for cold hardiness in marker assisted breeding programs. NATIONAL PROGRAM COMPONENT 2: Plant Molecular and Biological Processes. NATIONAL PROGRAM PROBLEM STATEMENT 2B: Plant Interactions with their Environment.

TITLE: Identification of Genes Associated with Apple’s Response to Fire Blight Disease. PROBLEM: Fire blight is a destructive disease of apple and pear trees that is estimated to cost the U.S. fruit industry over $100 million a year in crop losses and disease control. ACCOMPLISHMENT: A technique known as 'suppression subtractive cDNA hybridization' was used to identify genes in apple that respond to fire blight infection. A total of 468 apple genes were identified that responded to the disease between 1 and 72 hours after challenge with the fire blight pathogen. The DNA sequence of these genes was deposited in a publicly accessible database maintained by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov). IMPACT: This genetic information will be used by biologists, horticulturalists, and plant breeders to develop new strategies for improving plant resistance to fire blight disease. NATIONAL PROGRAM COMPONENT 2: Plant Molecular and Biological Processes. NATIONAL PROGRAM PROBLEM STATEMENT 2B: Plant Interactions with their Environment.


5.Significant Activities that Support Special Target Populations
None.


6.Technology Transfer

Number of web sites managed1
Number of non-peer reviewed presentations and proceedings23
Number of newspaper articles and other presentations for non-science audiences2

Review Publications
Bassett, C.L. 2007. Control of gene expression by mRNA transport and turnover. In: Bassett, C.L., editors. Regulation of Gene Expression in Plants: The Role of Transcript Structure and Processing. New York, NY: Springer Life Sciences. p. 148-188.

Farrell, Jr., R., Bassett, C.L. 2007. Multiple transcript initiation as a mechanism for regulating gene expression. In: Bassett, C.L., editor. Regulation of Gene Expression in Plants: The Role of Transcript Structure and Processing. New York, NY: Springer Life Sciences. p. 39-66.

Bassett, C.L., Wisniewski, M.E., Farrell Jr., R., Artlip, T.S., Norelli, J.L. 2006. Global analysis of genes regulated by low temperature and photoperiod in peach bark. Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science 131:551-563.

Wang, Y., Meilan, R., Wisniewski, M.E., Cui, M., Fuchigami, L. 2007. Transgenic tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum) that overexpress cAPX exhibits enhanced tolerance to UV-B and heat stress. Journal of Applied Horticulture. 8:1-4.

Kalberer, S., Wisniewski, M.E., Arora, R. 2006. Deacclimation and reacclimation of cold-hardy plants: current understanding and emerging concepts. Plant Science. 171:3-16.

Last Modified: 7/22/2014
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