Viçosa Federal University, Department of Plant Pathology, Laboratory of Host–Pathogen Interaction, Viçosa, Minas Gerais State, 36570-000, Brazil.
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Accepted for publication 2 December 2013.
Fusarium wilt, caused by Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. cubense, is a disease that causes large reductions in banana yield worldwide. Considering the importance of silicon (Si) to potentiate the resistance of several plant species to pathogen infection, this study aimed to investigate, at the histochemical level, whether this element could enhance the production of phenolics on the roots of banana plants in response to F. oxysporum f. sp. cubense infection. Plants of cultivar Maçã, which is susceptible to F. oxysporum f. sp. cubense, were grown in plastic pots amended with 0 (−Si) or 0.39 g of Si (+Si) per kilogram of soil and inoculated with race 1 of F. oxysporum f. sp. cubense. The root Si concentration was increased by 35.6% for +Si plants in comparison to the −Si plants, which contributed to a 27% reduction in the symptoms of Fusarium wilt on roots. There was an absence of fluorescence for the root sections of the −Si plants treated with the Neu and Wilson's reagents. By contrast, for the root sections obtained from the +Si plants treated with Neu's reagent, strong yellow-orange fluorescence was observed in the phloem, and lemon-yellow fluorescence was observed in the sclerenchyma and metaxylem vessels, indicating the presence of flavonoids. For the root sections of the +Si plants treated with Wilson's reagent, orange-yellowish autofluorescence was more pronounced around the phloem vessels, and yellow fluorescence was more pronounced around the metaxylem vessels, also indicating the presence of flavonoids. Lignin was more densely deposited in the cortex of the roots of the +Si plants than for the −Si plants. Dopamine was barely detected in the roots of the −Si plants after using the lactic and glyoxylic acid stain, but was strongly suspected to occur on the phloem and metaxylem vessels of the roots of the +Si plants as confirmed by the intense orange-yellow fluorescence. The present study provides new evidence of the pivotal role of the phenylpropanoid pathway in the resistance of banana plants to F. oxysporum f. sp. cubense infection when supplied with Si.
host defense mechanisms,
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