Genome-wide association study of resistance to Xanthomonas gardneri in the USDA pepper (Capsicum) collection.
Bacterial spot Xanthomonas species cause significant disease outbreaks on tomato and pepper in tropical and subtropical regions throughout the world. Host resistance has been one of the key components of integrated disease management approaches to mitigate plant pathogens. Although a number of resistance genes have been identified in pepper against bacterial spot xanthomonads, emergence of bacterial spot pathogen variants capable of overcoming these sources and changing pathogen distributions reinforce the importance of identifying novel candidates to incorporate into breeding programs. We conducted a genome-wide association study (GWAS) on a diverse U.S. Department of Agriculture collection of pepper germplasm including different species of Capsicum to identify novel sources of disease resistance against a highly virulent X. gardneri strain isolated from a recent outbreak. GWAS identified highly significant single nucleotide polymorphisms associated with defoliation in response to infection with X. gardneri. Functionally relevant candidate genes encoded products involved in disease resistance/susceptibility, hormone signaling, and basal resistance against multiple pathogens in various host-pathogen systems. The X. gardneri-resistant genotypes and quantitative trait loci identified in this study provide alleles that could be used for a resistance gene pyramiding effort against different species of bacterial spot xanthomonads in pepper.