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Elicitin Genes Expressed In Vitro by Certain Tobacco Isolates of Phytophthora parasitica Are Down Regulated During Compatible Interactions

March 2001 , Volume 14 , Number  3
Pages  326 - 335

Virginie Colas , Sandrine Conrod , Paul Venard , Harald Keller , Pierre Ricci , and Franck Panabières

Unite Santé Végétale et Environnement, Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique, Phytopathologie et Botanique, Villa Thuret, 62 boulevard du Cap, B. P. 2078, 06606 Antibes Cedex, France

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Accepted 15 November 2000.

Phytophthora spp. secrete proteins called elicitins in vitro that can specifically induce hypersensitive response and systemic acquired resistance in tobacco. In Phytophthora parasitica, the causal agent of black shank, most isolates virulent on tobacco are unable to produce elicitins in vitro. Recently, however, a few elicitin-producing P. parasitica strains virulent on tobacco have been isolated. We investigated the potential diversity of elicitin genes in P. parasitica isolates belonging to different genotypes and with various virulence levels toward tobacco as well as elicitin expression pattern in vitro and in planta. Although elicitins are encoded by a multigene family, parA1 is the main elicitin gene expressed. This gene is highly conserved among isolates, regardless of the elicitin production and virulence levels toward tobacco. Moreover, we show that elicitin-producing P. parasitica isolates virulent on tobacco down regulate parA1 expression during compatible interactions, whichever host plant is tested. Conversely, one elicitin-producing P. parasitica isolate that is pathogenic on tomato and avirulent on tobacco still expresses parA1 in the compatible interaction. Therefore, some P. parasitica isolates may evade tobacco recognition by down regulating parA1 in planta. The in planta down regulation of parA1 may constitute a suitable mechanism for P. parasitica to infect tobacco without deleterious consequences for the pathogen.

© 2001 The American Phytopathological Society