It is important to improve the understanding of the interactions between the trees and pathogens and integrate this knowledge about disease resistance into tree breeding programs. The conifer Norway spruce (Picea abies) is an important species for the forest industry in Europe. Its major pathogen is Heterobasidion parviporum, causing stem and root rot. In this study, we identified 11 Norway spruce QTLs (Quantitative trait loci) that correlate with variation in resistance to H. parviporum in a population of 466 trees by association genetics. Individual QTLs explained between 2.1 and 5.2% of the phenotypic variance. The expression of candidate genes associated with the QTLs was analysed in silico and in response to H. parviporum hypothesizing that (a) candidate genes linked to control of fungal sapwood growth are more commonly expressed in sapwood, and; (b) candidate genes associated with induced defences are respond to H. parviporum inoculation. The Norway spruce laccase PaLAC5 associated with control of lesion length development is likely to be involved in the induced defences. Expression analyses showed that PaLAC5 responds specifically and strongly in close proximity to the H. parviporum inoculation. Thus, PaLAC5 may be associated with the lignosuberized boundary zone formation in bark adjacent to the inoculation site.
Keywords: TOM40; genome-wide association study (GWAS); lignosuberized boundary zone; mitochondrion; sapwood; secretory and endosomal trafficking pathways; suberin.
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