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Nicotiana tabacum overexpressing CrSAMT from Citrus reticulata increased production of MeSA, which works as an airborne signal in neighboring wild-type plants, inducing PR1 and increasing resistance to the pathogen Xylella fastidiosa. Xylella fastidiosa is one of the major threats to plant health worldwide, affecting yield in many crops. Despite many efforts, the development of highly productive resistant varieties has been challenging. In studying host plant resistance, the S-adenosyl-L-methionine: salicylic acid carboxyl methyltransferase gene (SAMT) from Citrus reticulata, a X. fastidiosa resistant species, was upregulated in response to pathogen infection. SAMT is involved with the catalysis and production of methyl salicylate (MeSA), an airborne signal responsible for triggering systemic acquired resistance. Here we used tobacco as a model system and generated transgenic plants overexpressing C. reticulata SAMT (CrSAMT). We performed an in silico structural characterization of CrSAMT and investigated its biotechnological potential in modulating the immune system in transgenic plants. The increase of MeSA production in transgenic lines was confirmed by gas chromatography (GC-MS). The transgenic lines showed upregulation of PR1, and their incubation with neighboring wild-type plants activated PR1 expression, indicating that MeSA worked as an airborne signal. In addition, transgenic plants showed significantly fewer symptoms when challenged with X. fastidiosa. Altogether, these data suggest that CrSAMT plays a role in host defense response and can be used in biotechnology approaches to confer resistance against X. fastidiosa.


Laura M Gómez, Natália S Teixeira-Silva, Raquel Caserta, Marco A Takita, Márcia O M Marques, Alessandra A de Souza. Overexpression of Citrus reticulata SAMT in Nicotiana tabacum increases MeSA volatilization and decreases Xylella fastidiosa symptoms. Planta. 2020 Nov 13;252(6):103

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PMID: 33185761

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