The expression of two closely related peroxidase isogenes, Shpx6a and Shpx6b, of the legume Stylosanthes humilis was studied using isogene-specific reverse transcriptase PCR techniques. Results indicated that transcripts of both genes were rapidly induced following inoculation with the fungal pathogen Colletotrichum gloeosporioides, wounding and treatment with the defense regulator methyl jasmonate (MeJA). In contrast, treatment of leaves of S. humilis with abscisic acid (ABA) and salicylic acid (SA) did not induce transcripts of either isogene. A genomic clone containing the Shpx6b gene was isolated and 594 bp of 5′ sequence upstream of the translation start was fused in frame to the coding region of the uidA reporter gene and introduced into tobacco. Expression from the Shpx6b promoter in transgenic plants was determined by histochemical staining and quantitative assays of β-glucuronidase (GUS). In transgenic tobacco, GUS expression was detected in cotyledons, vascular cells of young leaves, anthers, pollen, and the stigma and style. Wounding of the tobacco plants produced very localized GUS staining. Much more extensive staining for GUS was observed following inoculation of tobacco leaves with conidia of the fungal pathogen Cercospora nicotianae and the inoculation of wound sites with mycelium of the Oomycete pathogen Phytophthora parasitica var. nicotianae. Treatment of mature leaves with methyl jasmonate induced GUS activity while treatment with ABA, SA, and H2O2 had no effect. A similar strong induction of GUS activity was measured in young transgenic seedlings germinated on MeJA while some, but much weaker, induction of GUS activity was observed in seedlings treated with SA. The sequence of the promoter contained motifs homologous to putative cis elements in other plant genes responsive to MeJA. The Shpx6b gene is the first plant peroxidase gene shown to be induced by both microbial pathogens and MeJA and its promoter will be useful for investigations of signaling processes during fungal infection and for the expression of foreign gene products at infection sites.
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