Potato late blight, caused by the destructive Irish famine pathogen Phytophthora infestans, is a major threat to global food security1,2. All late blight resistance genes identified to date belong to the coiled-coil, nucleotide-binding, leucine-rich repeat class of intracellular immune receptors3. However, virulent races of the pathogen quickly evolved to evade recognition by these cytoplasmic immune receptors4. Here we demonstrate that the receptor-like protein ELR (elicitin response) from the wild potato Solanum microdontum mediates extracellular recognition of the elicitin domain, a molecular pattern that is conserved in Phytophthora species. ELR associates with the immune co-receptor BAK1/SERK3 and mediates broad-spectrum recognition of elicitin proteins from several Phytophthora species, including four diverse elicitins from P. infestans. Transfer of ELR into cultivated potato resulted in enhanced resistance to P. infestans. Pyramiding cell surface pattern recognition receptors with intracellular immune receptors could maximize the potential of generating a broader and potentially more durable resistance to this devastating plant pathogen.
We thank Paul Birch for providing P. infestans strains 88069td and EC1_DC2005, Gert van Arkel, Nic Boerboom, Nicolas Champouret, Luigi Faino, Marjan Bergervoet and Alireza Salami for technical assistance in ELR cloning and transformation, Rients Niks, Jack Vossen and Matthieu Joosten for helpful discussions and supervision, Sebastian Schornack for excellent help with microscopy, and Cyril Zipfel for useful suggestions. This work was supported by a NWO-VIDI grant 12378 (V.G.A.A.V.), the Wageningen University Fund (WUF) (J.D.), the China Scholarship Council Program for Graduate Students (J.D.), Avebe (E.V., G.B., V.G.A.A.V.), the Gatsby Charitable Foundation (A.C.G., S.K.), the European Research Council (ERC) (A.C.G., S.K.) and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) (A.C.G., S.K.).