Downy mildew resistance is genetically mediated by prophylactic production of phenylpropanoids in hop
Downy mildew in hop (Humulus lupulus L.) is caused by Pseudoperonospora humuli and generates significant losses in quality and yield. To identify the biochemical processes that confer natural downy mildew resistance (DMR), a metabolome‐ and genome‐wide association study was performed. Inoculation of a high density genotyped F1 hop population (n=192) with the obligate biotrophic oomycete P. humuli led to variation in both the levels of thousands of specialized metabolites and DMR. We observed that metabolites of almost all major phytochemical classes were induced 48 hours after inoculation. But only a small number of metabolites were found to be correlated with DMR and these were enriched with phenylpropanoids. These metabolites were also correlated with DMR when measured from the non‐infected control set. A genome‐wide association study revealed co‐localization of the major DMR loci and the phenylpropanoid pathway markers indicating that the major contribution to resistance is mediated by these metabolites in a heritable manner. The application of three putative prophylactic phenylpropanoids led to a reduced degree of leaf infection in susceptible genotypes, confirming their protective activity either directly or as precursors of active compounds.