Bruce A. Rosa, and
First, second, and fourth authors: Department of Biology, University of Texas, Arlington 76019; and third author: The Genome Institute, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO 63102.
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Accepted for publication 30 December 2012.
Consumption of fresh produce contaminated with bacterial human pathogens has resulted in various, sometimes deadly, disease outbreaks. In this study, we assessed plant defense responses induced by the fully pathogenic bacteria Escherichia coli O157:H7 and Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium SL1344 in both Arabidopsis thaliana and lettuce (Lactuca sativa). Unlike SL1344, O157:H7 induced strong plant immunity at both pre-invasion and post-invasion steps of infection. For instance, O157:H7 triggered stomatal closure even under high relative humidity, an environmental condition that generally weakens plant defenses against bacteria in the field and laboratory conditions. SL1344 instead induced a transient stomatal immunity. We also observed that PR1 gene expression was significantly higher in Arabidopsis leaves infected with O157:H7 compared with SL1344. These results suggest that plants may recognize and respond to some human pathogens more effectively than others. Furthermore, stomatal immunity can diminish the penetration of human pathogens through the leaf epidermis, resulting in low bacterial titers in the plant apoplast and suggesting that additional control measures can be employed to prevent food contamination. The understanding of how plant responses can diminish bacterial contamination is paramount in preventing outbreaks and improving the safety of food supplies.
© 2013 The American Phytopathological Society