Indexed on: 05 Jun '10Published on: 05 Jun '10Published in: Molecular plant-microbe interactions : MPMI
Studies of the interaction between Arabidopsis thaliana and the necrotrophic fungal pathogen Sclerotinia sclerotiorum have been hampered by the extreme susceptibility of this model plant to the fungus. In addition, analyses of the plant defense response suggested the implication of a complex interplay of hormonal and signaling pathways. To get a deeper insight into this host-pathogen interaction, we first analyzed the natural variation in Arabidopsis for resistance to S. sclerotiorum. The results revealed a large variation of resistance and susceptibility in Arabidopsis, with some ecotypes, such as Ws-4, Col-0, and Rbz-1, being strongly resistant, and others, such as Shahdara, Ita-0, and Cvi-0, exhibiting an extreme susceptibility. The role of different signaling pathways in resistance was then determined by assessing the symptoms of mutants affected in the perception, production, or transduction of hormonal signals after inoculation with S. sclerotiorum. This analysis led to the conclusions that i) signaling of inducible defenses is predominantly mediated by jasmonic acid and abscisic acid, influenced by ethylene, and independent of salicylic acid; and ii) nitric oxide (NO) and reactive oxygen species are important signals required for plant resistance to S. sclerotiorum. Defense gene expression analysis supported the specific role of NO in defense activation.