Crop Biotech Update

Gene-edited Grapevine Shows Resistance to Downy Mildew

December 14, 2023

CRISPR-Cas9 technology offers an exciting opportunity to modify plant genes and potentially develop disease resistance. A study published in the Journal of Experimental Botany investigated the role of Downy mildew resistant 6 (DMR6), a negative regulator of plant immunity, in grapevine resistance to downy mildew. In Arabidopsis, loss of function of DMR6 leads to resistance against downy mildew.

Grapevine downy mildew is caused by the oomycete Plasmopara viticola, is a major concern for vineyard owners worldwide. Currently, the disease is managed primarily with fungicides, which pose environmental and health risks. Utilizing resistant grapevine varieties presents a more sustainable and environmentally friendly alternative. Thus, the study focused on Vitis vinifera, a species of grapevine, which possesses two copies of the DMR6 gene (VvDMR6-1 and VvDMR6-2). Researchers employed CRISPR-Cas9 to edit VvDMR6-1 in grapevine plants. The edited plants displayed increased resistance to P. viticola infection. This resistance was accompanied by elevated salicylic acid levels, a key signaling molecule involved in plant defense responses.

The findings suggest that CRISPR-Cas9-mediated editing of VvDMR6-1 can provide an effective strategy for developing grapevine varieties resistant to downy mildew, offering a sustainable alternative to chemical control methods.

Read the research article in the Journal of Experimental Botany.

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