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Induced Resistance Responses in Maize

July 1998 , Volume 11 , Number  7
Pages  643 - 658

Shericca W. Morris , 1 Bernard Vernooij , 1 Somkiat Titatarn , 2 Mark Starrett , 1 Steve Thomas , 1 Curtis C. Wiltse , 3 Richard A. Frederiksen , 4 Amornrut Bhandhufalck , 5 Scot Hulbert , 6 and Scott Uknes 1

1Seeds Biotechnology Research Unit, Novartis Inc., P.O. Box 12257, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709, U.S.A.; 2Branch of Field Crop Disease, Plant Pathology and Microbiology Division, Department of Agriculture, Bangkhen, Bangkok 10900, Thailand; 3Department of Soil and Crop Sciences and 4Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology, Texas A&M University, College Station 77843, U.S.A.; 5Novartis Ltd., Donmuang, Bangkok 10210, Thailand; and 6Department of Plant Pathology, Kansas State University, Manhattan 66506, U.S.A.

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Accepted 12 March 1998.

Systemic acquired resistance (SAR) is a widely distributed plant defense system that confers broad-spectrum disease resistance and is accompanied by coordinate expression of the so-called SAR genes. This type of resistance and SAR gene expression can be mimicked with chemical inducers of resistance. Here, we report that chemical inducers of resistance are active in maize. Chemical induction increases resistance to downy mildew and activates expression of the maize PR-1 and PR-5 genes. These genes are also coordinately activated by pathogen infection and function as indicators of the defense reaction. Specifically, after pathogen infection, the PR-1 and PR-5 genes are induced more rapidly and more strongly in an incompatible than in a compatible interaction. In addition, we show that monocot lesion mimic plants also express these defense-related genes and that they have increased levels of salicylic acid after lesions develop, similar to pathogen-infected maize plants. The existence of chemically inducible disease resistance and PR-1 and PR-5 gene expression in maize indicates that maize is similar to dicots in many aspects of induced resistance. This reinforces the notion of an ancient plant-inducible defense pathway against pathogen attack that is shared between monocots and dicots.

Additional keywords: activator chemical , BTH , INA , pathogenesis-related.

© 1998 The American Phytopathological Society