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Endophytic Actinobacteria Induce Defense Pathways in Arabidopsis thaliana

February 2008 , Volume 21 , Number  2
Pages  208 - 218

V. M. Conn,1 A. R. Walker,2 and C. M. M. Franco1

1Department of Medical Biotechnology, Flinders University, Bedford Park, South Australia 5042, Australia; 2CSIRO Plant Industry, PO Box 350, Glen Osmond, Adelaide 5064, Australia

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Accepted 23 October 2007.

Endophytic actinobacteria, isolated from healthy wheat tissue, which are capable of suppressing a number wheat fungal pathogens both in vitro and in planta, were investigated for the ability to activate key genes in the systemic acquired resistance (SAR) or the jasmonate/ethylene (JA/ET) pathways in Arabidopsis thaliana. Inoculation of A. thaliana (Col-0) with selected endophytic strains induced a low level of SAR and JA/ET gene expression, measured using quantitative polymerase chain reaction. Upon pathogen challenge, endophyte-treated plants demonstrated a higher abundance of defense gene expression compared with the non-endophyte-treated controls. Resistance to the bacterial pathogen Erwinia carotovora subsp. carotovora required the JA/ET pathway. On the other hand, resistance to the fungal pathogen Fusarium oxysporum involved primarily the SAR pathway. The endophytic actinobacteria appear to be able to “prime” both the SAR and JA/ET pathways, upregulating genes in either pathway depending on the infecting pathogen. Culture filtrates of the endophytic actinobacteria were investigated for the ability to also activate defense pathways. The culture filtrate of Micromonospora sp. strain EN43 grown in a minimal medium resulted in the induction of the SAR pathway; however, when grown in a complex medium, the JA/ET pathway was activated. Further analysis using Streptomyces sp. strain EN27 and defense-compromised mutants of A. thaliana indicated that resistance to E. carotovora subsp. carotovora occurred via an NPR1-independent pathway and required salicylic acid whereas the JA/ET signaling molecules were not essential. In contrast, resistance to F. oxysporum mediated by Streptomyces sp. strain EN27 occurred via an NPR1-dependent pathway but also required salicylic acid and was JA/ET independent.

© 2008 The American Phytopathological Society