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Ethylene Insensitivity Impairs Resistance to Soilborne Pathogens in Tobacco and Arabidopsis thaliana

October 2002 , Volume 15 , Number  10
Pages  1,078 - 1,085

Bart P. J. Geraats , Peter A. H. M. Bakker , and L. C. van Loon

Graduate School Experimental Plant Sciences, Faculty of Biology, Section Phytopathology, Utrecht University, PO Box 800.84, 3508 TB Utrecht, The Netherlands

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Accepted 13 June 2002.

Transgenic ethylene-insensitive tobacco (Tetr) plants spontaneously develop symptoms of wilting and stem necrosis when grown in nonautoclaved soil. Fusarium oxysporum, F. solani, Thielaviopsis basicola, Rhizopus stolonifer, and two Pythium spp. were isolated from these diseased Tetr plants and demonstrated to be causal agents of the disease symptoms. Pathogenicity of the two Pythium isolates and four additional Pythium spp. was tested on ethylene-insensitive tobacco and Arabidopsis seedlings. In both plant species, ethylene insensitivity enhanced susceptibility to the Pythium spp., as evidenced by both a higher disease index and a higher percentage of diseased plants. Based on the use of a DNA probe specific for Pythium spp., Tetr plants exhibited more pathogen growth in stem and leaf tissue than similarly diseased control plants. These results demonstrate that ethylene signaling is required for resistance to different root pathogens and contributes to limiting growth and systemic spread of the pathogen.

Additional keywords: Chalara elegans , ein2 , etr1 , jar1 , jasmonate , necrotrophic.

© 2002 The American Phytopathological Society