Department of Plant Sciences, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Givat-Ram Jerusalem 91904, Israel
Botrytis cinerea is a necrotrophic fungus that infects over 200 plant species. Previous studies showed that host cells collapse in advance of the hyphae, suggesting secretion of toxins or elicitors. We have partially characterized elicitor activity from intercellular fluid extracted from Arabidopsis thaliana leaves infected with B. cinerea. Treatment of intact leaves or cell cultures with either intercellular fluid from infected leaves or medium from inoculated A. thaliana cell culture induced generation of reactive oxygen species, resulting in reduced photosynthesis, electrolyte leakage, and necrotic lesions that resembled the hypersensitive response (HR). The necrosis was inhibited by diphenyleneiodonium, a specific inhibitor of NADPH oxidase, and by chelating free iron, suggesting the involvement of hydroxyl radicals. The necrosis was also suppressed in dnd1 mutants that are compromised in HR. In contrast, increased cell death was observed in acd2 mutants, indicating the involvement of the host defense signaling pathways. Treatment with the intercellular fluid from infected leaves also induced transcription of pathogenesis-related (PR) genes, such as PR-1, PR-5, HSR203J, and of senescence-associated gene SAG-13. Moreover, rapid transcription of the ethylene-dependent AtEBP gene was detected, indicating induction of ethylene production. The inter-cellular fluid from infected A. thaliana induced cell death in other plants, in line with the lack of B. cinerea specificity. In summary, the intercellular fluid mimicked a range of molecular and physiological host responses that are observed during infection with a live fungus. Moreover, it accelerated the B. cinerea infection, suggesting that the elicitor may act as a pathogenicity factor in the progression of gray mold disease.