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Organ-Specificity in a Plant Disease Is Determined Independently of R Gene Signaling

September 2003 , Volume 16 , Number  9
Pages  752 - 759

Monika Hermanns , Alan J. Slusarenko , and Nikolaus L. Schlaich

Institut Bio III (Pflanzenphysiologie), RWTH Aachen, D-52056 Aachen, Germany


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Accepted 19 May 2003.

The molecular basis of organ specificity in plant diseases is little characterized. Downy mildew of Arabidopsis caused by the oomycete Hyaloperonospora parasitica (formerly Peronospora parasitica) is characteristically a leaf disease. Resistant host genotypes recognize the pathogen in a gene-for-gene dependent manner and respond with the production of H2O2 and the execution of a genetically programmed hypersensitive cell death (HR). We inoculated the roots of Arabidopsis genotypes Col-0, Ws-0, and Wei-0 with the NOCO and WELA races of the pathogen and compared the responses with those observed in leaves. Combinations of incompatible genotypes of host and pathogen showed the expected responses of an oxidative burst and the HR in leaves, but surprisingly, roots showed no signs of active defense and appeared completely susceptible to all the H. parasitica isolates tested. Reverse transcrip tase-polymerase chain reaction showed that the R gene RPP1, which mediates resistance in leaves of accession Ws-0 to the H. parasitica isolate NOCO, was expressed in leaves as well as in roots. Similarly, NDR1 and EDS1, two components of R gene-mediated signaling pathways, are also expressed in both tissues. To our knowledge, it has not been previously demonstrated that expression of R genes and downstream components of the signaling cascade are not sufficient for the induction of avirulence gene-mediated defense mechanisms in roots.


Additional keywords: hypersensitive response.

© 2003 The American Phytopathological Society