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Infection with Rhizoctonia solani Induces Defense Genes and Systemic Resistance in Potato Sprouts Grown Without Light

November 2008 , Volume 98 , Number  11
Pages  1,190 - 1,198

M. J. Lehtonen, P. Somervuo, and J. P. T. Valkonen

Plant Pathology Laboratory, Department of Applied Biology, FIN-00014 University of Helsinki, Finland.

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Accepted for publication 4 August 2008.

Rhizoctonia solani is an important soilborne and seedborne fungal pathogen of potato (Solanum tuberosum). The initial infection of sprouts prior to emergence causes lesions and may be lethal to the sprout or sprout tip, which results in initiation and compensatory growth of new sprouts. They emerge successfully and do not suffer significant damage. The mechanism behind this recovery phenomenon is not known. It was hypothesized that infection may induce pathogen defense in sprouts, which was investigated in the present study. Tubers were sprouted in cool and moist conditions in darkness to mimic conditions beneath soil. The basal portion of the sprout was isolated from the apical portion with a soft plastic collar and inoculated with highly virulent R. solani. Induction of defense-related responses was monitored in the apical portion using microarray and quantitative polymerase chain reaction techniques at 48 and 120 h postinoculation (hpi) and by challenge-inoculation with R. solani in two experiments. Differential expression of 122 and 779 genes, including many well-characterized defense-related genes, was detected at 48 and 120 hpi, respectively. The apical portion of the sprout also expressed resistance which inhibited secondary infection of the sprouts. The observed systemic induction of resistance in sprouts upon infection with virulent R. solani provides novel information about pathogen defense in potato before the plant emerges and becomes photosynthetically active. These results advance our understanding of the little studied subject of pathogen defense in subterranean parts of plants.

Additional keywords:disease resistance, ecology, genomics, infection cycle, resource allocation, stem canker, transcriptome.

© 2008 The American Phytopathological Society