The development of leaf disease symptoms and the accumulation of pathogenesis-related (PR) proteins were monitored in leaves of tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum cv. Xanthinc) plants colonized by the arbuscular mycorrhizal fungus Glomus intraradices. Leaves of mycorrhizal plants infected with the leaf pathogens Botrytis cinerea or tobacco mosaic virus showed a higher incidence and severity of necrotic lesions than those of nonmycorrhizal controls. Similar plant responses were obtained at both low (0.1 mM) and high (1.0 mM) nutritional P levels and with mutant plants (NahG) that are unable to accumulate salicylic acid. Application of PR-protein activators induced PR-1 and PR-3 expression in leaves of both nonmycorrhizal and mycorrhizal plants; however, accumulation and mRNA steady-state levels of these proteins were lower, and their appearance delayed, in leaves of the mycorrhizal plants. Application of 0.3 mM phosphate to the plants did not mimic the delay in PR expression observed in the mycorrhizal tobacco. Together, these data strongly support the existence of regulatory processes, initiated in the roots of mycorrhizal plants, that modify disease-symptom development and gene expression in their leaves.
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