Institute for Plant Diseases, University of Bonn, Nussallee 9, D-53115 Bonn, Germany
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Accepted for publication 19 October 2004.
Disease progress of downy mildew on cucumber leaves, caused by the obligate biotrophic pathogen Pseudoperonospora cubensis, was shown to be associated with various changes in transpiration depending on the stage of pathogenesis. Spatial and temporal changes in the transpiration rate of infected and noninfected cucumber leaves were visualized by digital infrared thermography in combination with measurements of gas exchange as well as microscopic observations of pathogen growth within plant tissue and stomatal aperture during pathogenesis. Transpiration of cucumber leaf tissue was correlated to leaf temperature in a negative linear manner (r = -0.762, P < 0.001, n = 18). Leaf areas colonized by Pseudoperonospora cubensis exhibited a presymptomatic decrease in leaf tem perature up to 0.8°C lower than noninfected tissue due to abnormal stomata opening. The appearance of chlorosis was associated with a cooling effect caused by the loss of integrity of cell membranes leading to a larger amount of apoplastic water in infected tissue. Increased water loss from damaged cells and the inability of infected plant tissue to regulate stomatal opening promoted cell death and desiccation of dying tissue. Ultimately, the lack of natural cooling from necrotic tissue was associated with an increase in leaf temperature. These changes in leaf temperature during downy mildew development resulted in a considerable heterogeneity in temperature distribution of infected leaves. The maximum temperature difference within a thermogram of cucumber leaves allowed the discrimination between healthy and infected leaves before visible symptoms appeared.
The American Phytopathological Society, 2005