Plant Pathology Laboratory, Graduate School of Bioagricultural Sciences, Nagoya University, Chikusa, Nagoya, 464-8601, Japan
Phytophthora infestans, the agent of late blight disease of potato, is a hemibiotrophic pathogen with biotrophic action during early infection and necrotrophic in the later stage of colonization. Mature Nicotiana benthamiana was resistant to P. infestans, whereas relatively young plants were susceptible to this pathogen. Young plants became resistant following a pretreatment with acibenzolar-S-methyl, a functional analog of salicylic acid (SA), indicating that susceptibility of young plants is due to a lack of induction of SA signaling. Further analysis with virus-induced gene silencing indicated that NbICS1 and NbEIN2, the genes for SA biosynthesis and ethylene (ET) signaling, respectively, are required for the resistance of mature N. benthamiana against P. infestans. Furthermore, these genes are required for the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) induced by treatment of the INF1 elicitor. In NbICS1-silenced plants, cell death induced by either INF1 or necrosis-inducing protein NPP1.1 was significantly accelerated. Expression of genes for phytoalexin (capsidiol) biosynthesis, NbEAS and NbEAH, were regulated by ET, and gene silencing of either of them compromised resistance of N. benthamiana to P. infestans. Together, these results suggest that resistance of N. benthamiana against hemibiotrophic P. infestans requires both SA-regulated appropriate induction of cell death and ET-induced production of phytoalexin.