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The Arabidopsis ATAF1, a NAC Transcription Factor, Is a Negative Regulator of Defense Responses Against Necrotrophic Fungal and Bacterial Pathogens

October 2009 , Volume 22 , Number  10
Pages  1,227 - 1,238

Xiao'e Wang,1 B. M. Vindhya S. Basnayake,1 Huijuan Zhang,1 Guojun Li,1 Wei Li,1 Nasar Virk,1 Tesfaye Mengiste,2 and Fengming Song1

1State Key Laboratory for Rice Biology, Institute of Biotechnology, Zhejiang University-Huajiachi Campus, Hangzhou, Zhejiang 310029, People's Republic of China; 2Department of Botany and Plant Pathology, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907, U.S.A.

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Accepted 10 June 2009.

Transcription factors of the NAC family are known to be involved in various growth or developmental processes and in regulation of response to environmental stresses. In the present study, we report that Arabidopsis ATAF1 is a negative regulator of defense responses against both necrotrophic fungal and bacterial pathogens. Expression of ATAF1 was downregulated after infection with Botrytis cinerea or Pseudomonas syringae pv. tomato or after treatment with salicylic acid (SA), jasmonic acid, and 1-amino cyclopropane-1-carboxylic acid (the precursor of ethylene biosynthesis). Transgenic plants that overexpress the ATAF1 gene (ATAF1-OE) showed increased susceptibility while expression of an ATAF1 chimeric repressor construct (ATAF1-SRDX) exhibited enhanced resistance to P. syringae pv. tomato DC3000, B. cinerea, and Alternaria brassicicola. The ataf1 mutant plants showed no significant resistance against the pathogens tested. After inoculation with B. cinerea or P. syringae pv. tomato DC3000, expressions of defense-related genes PR-1, PR-5. and PDF1.2 were upregulated in the ATAF1-SRDX plants but attenuated or unchanged in the ATAF1-OE plants. In ATAF1-OE plants, SA-induced expression of pathogenesis-related genes and disease resistance against P. syringae pv. tomato DC3000 was partially suppressed. Increased levels of reactive oxygen species (i.e., H2O2 and superoxide anion) accumulated only in the ATAF1-OE but not in the ATAF1-SRDX plants after Botrytis spp. infection. Our studies provide direct genetic evidence for the role of ATAF1 as a negative regulator of defense response against different type of pathogens.

© 2009 The American Phytopathological Society