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Reduced Expression of the Tomato Ethylene Receptor Gene LeETR4 Enhances the Hypersensitive Response to Xanthomonas campestris pv. vesicatoria

April 2001 , Volume 14 , Number  4
Pages  487 - 495

Joseph A. Ciardi , 1 Denise M. Tieman , 1 Jeffrey B. Jones , 2 and Harry J. Klee 1

1Horticultural Sciences Department, P.O. Box 110690, University of Florida, Gainesville 32611-0690, U.S.A.; 2Department of Plant Pathology, University of Florida, Gainesville 32611-0680, U.S.A.

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Accepted 8 November 2000.

The hypersensitive response (HR) involves rapid death of cells at the site of pathogen infection and is thought to limit pathogen growth through the plant. Ethylene regulates senescence and developmental programmed cell death, but its role in hypersensitive cell death is less clear. Expression of two ethylene receptor genes, NR and LeETR4, is induced in tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum cv. Mill) leaves during an HR to Xanthomonas campestris pv. vesicatoria, with the greatest increase observed in LeETR4. LeETR4 antisense plants previously were shown to exhibit increased sensitivity to ethylene. These plants also exhibit greatly reduced induction of LeETR4 expression during infection and an accelerated HR at inoculum concentrations ranging from 105 to 107 CFU/ml. Increases in ethylene synthesis and pathogenesis-related gene expression are greater and more rapid in infected LeETR4 antisense plants, indicating an enhanced defense response. Populations of avirulent X. campestris pv. vesicatoria decrease more quickly and to a lower level in the transgenic plants, indicating a greater resistance to this pathogen. Because the ethylene action inhibitor 1-methylcyclopropene alleviates the enhanced HR phenotype in LeETR4 antisense plants, these changes in pathogen response are a result of increased ethylene sensitivity.

© 2001 The American Phytopathological Society