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Enhanced Glutathione Metabolism Is Correlated with Sulfur-Induced Resistance in Tobacco mosaic virus–Infected Genetically Susceptible Nicotiana tabacum Plants

November 2010 , Volume 23 , Number  11
Pages  1,448 - 1,459

Kerstin Höller,1 Lóránt Király,2 András Künstler,2 Maria Müller,1 Gábor Gullner,2 Maria Fattinger,1 and Bernd Zechmann1

1University of Graz, Institute of Plant Sciences, Schubertstrasse 51, 8010 Graz, Austria; 2Plant Protection Institute, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, P.O. Box 102, 1525 Budapest, Hungary

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Accepted 21 July 2010.

Sulfur-induced resistance, also known as sulfur-enhanced defense (SIR/SED) was investigated in Nicotiana tabacum cv. Samsun nn during compatible interaction with Tobacco mosaic virus (TMV) in correlation with glutathione metabolism. To evaluate the influence of sulfur nutritional status on virus infection, tobacco plants were treated with nutrient solutions containing either sufficient sulfate (+S) or no sulfate (−S). Sufficient sulfate supply resulted in a suppressed and delayed symptom development and diminished virus accumulation over a period of 14 days after inoculation as compared with −S conditions. Expression of the defense marker gene PR-1a was markedly upregulated in sulfate-treated plants during the first day after TMV inoculation. The occurrence of SIR/SED correlated with a higher level of activity of sulfate assimilation, cysteine, and glutathione metabolism in plants treated with sulfate. Additionally, two key genes involved in cysteine and glutathione biosynthesis (encoding adenosine 5′-phosphosulfate reductase and γ-glutamylcysteine synthetase, respectively) were upregulated within the first day after TMV inoculation under +S conditions. Sulfate withdrawal from the soil was accelerated at the beginning of the infection, whereas it declined in the long term, leading to an accumulation of sulfur in the soil of plants grown with sulfate. This observation could be correlated with a decrease in sulfur contents in TMV-infected leaves in the long term. In summary, this is the first study that demonstrates a link between the activation of cysteine and glutathione metabolism and the induction of SIR/SED during a compatible plant-virus interaction in tobacco plants, indicating a general mechanism behind SIR/SED.

© 2010 The American Phytopathological Society