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High Levels of a Fungal Superoxide Dismutase and Increased Concentration of a PR-10 Plant Protein in Associations Between the Endophytic Fungus Neotyphodium lolii and Ryegrass

August 2011 , Volume 24 , Number  8
Pages  984 - 992

Ningxin Zhang,1 Shuguang Zhang,1 Sophie Borchert,1 Kim Richardson,2 and Jan Schmid1

1Institute for Molecular BioSciences, Massey University, Private Bag 11-222, Palmerston North 4412, New Zealand; 2AgResearch Ltd, Grasslands Research Centre Private Bag 11008, Palmerston North 4442, New Zealand


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Accepted 12 April 2011.

Neotyphodium lolii is a fungal endosymbiont of the ryegrass Lolium perenne. Its growth is tightly controlled and synchronized with that of the plant. How the symbionts communicate is largely unknown but failure of the endophyte to elicit a defense response is considered crucial for successful symbiosis. In silver-stained two-dimensional gels of protein extracts from endophyte-infected ryegrass, a fungal Cu/Zn superoxide dismutase was detectable, even though the fungus accounts for only <1/500 of the biomass, indicating that it is an abundant fungal protein and that the fungus needs protection against reactive oxygen species. The plant increased levels of a pathogenesis-related class 10 (PR-10) protein; when equal amounts of protein from infected and uninfected plants were loaded, PR-10 was only detectable in extracts from infected plants. Presence of the endophyte did not lead to a significant increase in PR10 transcript levels. In protein extracts from a symbiosis containing an N. lolii variant with an abnormal in planta growth pattern, the fungal Cu/Zn superoxide dismutase but not PR-10 protein was detectable. The correlation between increased PR-10 levels and presence of a normally growing endophyte is suggestive of a role of a very limited host defense in the interaction between grass and endophyte.



© 2011 The American Phytopathological Society