First author: Department of Agricultural, Food, and Nutritional Science, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB T6G 2P5, Canada; second author: University of California Cooperative Extension, Modesto 95358; third author: University of California Kearney Agricultural Center, Parlier 93648; fourth and fifth authors: Department of Pomology, and sixth author: Department of Plant Pathology, University of California, Davis 95616
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Accepted for publication 28 January 2005.
The in vitro expression of the syrB gene that controls the synthesis of syringomycin, a non-host-specific phytotoxin produced by Pseudomonas syringae pv. syringae van Hall, was studied using aqueous extracts derived from bark tissues collected from nitrogen-fertilized and nonfertilized peach trees. Expression of the syrB gene was quantified as β- galactosidase activity expressed by P. syringae pv. syringae B3AR-132 containing a syrB::lacZ fusion. Gene expression was significantly less in three of four paired comparisons using extracts derived from fertilized versus nonfertilized trees; however, canker lengths were significantly different in only one of four comparisons. Expression was negatively correlated with plant tissue nitrogen content and positively correlated with a plant carbon/nitrogen ratio. Bark tissue from ring nematodeinfested trees had significantly higher concentrations of total soluble phenolic compounds and carbon/nitrogen ratios than bark samples from trees without nematodes, and canker size was significantly greater in trees growing in ring nematode-infested soil compared with noninfested soil. Nitrogen fertilization significantly decreased the plant carbon/nitrogen ratio, which was positively correlated with the concentration of total soluble phenolic compounds. Canker size developing after bacterial inoculation was positively correlated with higher plant carbon/nitrogen ratios and total soluble phenolic compounds. These results support the hypothesis that one reason why nitrogen fertilization decreases host susceptibility to bacterial canker is by either reducing the amount of plant metabolites that can induce syrB gene expression, or producing or increasing the concentration of compounds that antagonize syrB inducing compounds.
© 2005 The American Phytopathological Society