Department of Plant Pathology & Environmental Microbiology, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park 16802.
Incorporation of plant defense activators is an innovative approach to development of an integrated strategy for the management of turfgrass diseases. The effects of salicylic acid (SA), benzothiadiazole (BTH, chemical analog of SA), jasmonic acid (JA), and ethephon (ET, an ethylene-releasing compound) on development of gray leaf spot in perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne L.) caused by Magnaporthe oryzae were evaluated. Gray leaf spot disease incidence and severity were significantly decreased when plants were treated prior to inoculation with SA, BTH, and partially by ET but not by JA. Accumulation of endogenous SA and elevated expression of pathogenesis-related (PR)-1, PR-3.1, and PR-5 genes were associated with inoculation of plants by M. oryzae. Treatment of plants with SA enhanced expression levels of PR-3.1 and PR-5 but did not affect the PR-1 level, whereas BTH treatment enhanced relative expression levels of all three PR genes. Microscopic observations of leaves inoculated with M. oryzae revealed higher frequencies of callose deposition at the penetration sites in SA- and BTH-treated plants compared with the control plants (treated with water). These results suggest that early and higher induction of these genes by systemic resistance inducers may provide perennial ryegrass with a substantial advantage to defend against infection by M. oryzae.