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Plant Physiol. 2002 Jul;129(3):1341-51.

The role of ethylene and wound signaling in resistance of tomato to Botrytis cinerea.

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  • 1Wageningen University Plant Sciences, Laboratory of Phytopathology, Binnenhaven 5, P.O. Box 8025, 6700 EE, Wageningen, The Netherlands.


Ethylene, jasmonate, and salicylate play important roles in plant defense responses to pathogens. To investigate the contributions of these compounds in resistance of tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum) to the fungal pathogen Botrytis cinerea, three types of experiments were conducted: (a) quantitative disease assays with plants pretreated with ethylene, inhibitors of ethylene perception, or salicylate; (b) quantitative disease assays with mutants or transgenes affected in the production of or the response to either ethylene or jasmonate; and (c) expression analysis of defense-related genes before and after inoculation of plants with B. cinerea. Plants pretreated with ethylene showed a decreased susceptibility toward B. cinerea, whereas pretreatment with 1-methylcyclopropene, an inhibitor of ethylene perception, resulted in increased susceptibility. Ethylene pretreatment induced expression of several pathogenesis-related protein genes before B. cinerea infection. Proteinase inhibitor I expression was repressed by ethylene and induced by 1-methylcyclopropene. Ethylene also induced resistance in the mutant Never ripe. RNA analysis showed that Never ripe retained some ethylene sensitivity. The mutant Epinastic, constitutively activated in a subset of ethylene responses, and a transgenic line producing negligible ethylene were also tested. The results confirmed that ethylene responses are important for resistance of tomato to B. cinerea. The mutant Defenseless, impaired in jasmonate biosynthesis, showed increased susceptibility to B. cinerea. A transgenic line with reduced prosystemin expression showed similar susceptibility as Defenseless, whereas a prosystemin-overexpressing transgene was highly resistant. Ethylene and wound signaling acted independently on resistance. Salicylate and ethylene acted synergistically on defense gene expression, but antagonistically on resistance.

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