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NIM1 Overexpression in Arabidopsis Potentiates Plant Disease Resistance and Results in Enhanced Effectiveness of Fungicides

September 2001 , Volume 14 , Number  9
Pages  1,114 - 1,124

Leslie Friedrich , 1 Kay Lawton , 1 Robert Dietrich , 1 Michael Willits , 1 Rebecca Cade , 1 and John Ryals 2

1Syngenta, 3054 Cornwallis Road, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709, U.S.A.; 2Paradigm Genetics, 104 Alexander Drive, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709, U.S.A.

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Accepted 8 May 2001.

The NIM1 (for noninducible immunity, also known as NPR1) gene is required for the biological and chemical activation of systemic acquired resistance (SAR) in Arabidopsis. Overexpression of NIM1 in wild-type plants (hereafter referred to as NIM1 plants or lines) results in varying degrees of resistance to different pathogens. Experiments were performed to address the basis of the enhanced disease resistance responses seen in the NIM1 plants. The increased resistance observed in the NIM1 lines correlated with increased NIM1 protein levels and rapid induction of PR1 gene expression, a marker for SAR induction in Arabidopsis, following pathogen inoculation. Levels of salicylic acid (SA), an endogenous signaling molecule required for SAR induction, were not significantly increased compared with wild-type plants. SA was required for the enhanced resistance in NIM1 plants, however, suggesting that the effect of NIM1 overexpression is that plants are more responsive to SA or a SA-dependent signal. This hypothesis is supported by the heightened responsiveness that NIM1 lines exhibited to the SAR-inducing compound benzo(1,2,3)-thiadiazole-7-car-bothioic acid S-methyl ester. Furthermore, the increased efficacy of three fungicides was observed in the NIM1 plants, suggesting that a combination of transgenic and chemical approaches may lead to effective and durable disease-control strategies.

© 2001 The American Phytopathological Society