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Abscisic Acid in Salt Stress Predisposition to Phytophthora Root and Crown Rot in Tomato and Chrysanthemum

September 2010 , Volume 100 , Number  9
Pages  871 - 879

Matthew V. DiLeo, Matthew F. Pye, Tatiana V. Roubtsova, John M. Duniway, James D. MacDonald, David M. Rizzo, and Richard M. Bostock

Department of Plant Pathology, University of California, One Shields Ave., Davis 95616.

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Accepted for publication 4 May 2010.

Plants respond to changes in the environment with complex signaling networks, often under control of phytohormones that generate positive and negative crosstalk among downstream effectors of the response. Accordingly, brief dehydration stresses such as salinity and water deficit, which induce a rapid and transient systemic increase in levels of abscisic acid (ABA), can influence disease response pathways. ABA has been associated with susceptibility of plants to bacteria, fungi, and oomycetes but relatively little attention has been directed at its role in abiotic stress predisposition to root pathogens. This study examines the impact of brief salinity stress on infection of tomato and chrysanthemum roots by Phytophthora spp. Roots of plants in hydroponic culture exposed to a brief episode of salt (sodium chloride) stress prior to or after inoculation were severely diseased relative to nonstressed plants. Tomato roots remained in a predisposed state up to 24 h following removal from the stress. An increase in root ABA levels in tomato preceded or temporally paralleled the onset of stress-induced susceptibility, with levels declining in roots prior to recovery from the predisposed state. Exogenous ABA could substitute for salt stress and significantly enhanced pathogen colonization and disease development. ABA-deficient tomato mutants lacked the predisposition response, which could be restored by complementation of the mutant with exogenous ABA. In contrast, ethylene, which exacerbates disease symptoms in some host--parasite interactions, did not appear to contribute to the predisposition response. Thus, several lines of evidence support ABA as a critical and dominant factor in the salinity-induced predisposition to Phytophthora spp. infection.

Additional keywords: osmotic stress, Phytophthora capsici, P. cryptogea, P. parasitica.

© 2010 The American Phytopathological Society