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Plant Mol Biol. 2003 May;52(2):291-302.

The putative gymnosperm plant defensin polypeptide (SPI1) accumulates after seed germination, is not readily released, and the SPI1 levels are reduced in Pythium dimorphum-infected spruce roots.

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  • 1Norwegian Forest Research Institute, Høgskoleveien 12, 1432 As, Norway.


The putative plant defensin SPI1 cDNA from the conifer Norway spruce (Picea abies) is the only known plant defensin-like sequence from a gymnosperm. The predicted translational product SPI1 was not detected in the embryo or other parts of the seed by means of antibodies, but it accumulated in the root cortex after germination. In roots of seedlings infected with the root pathogenic oomycete Pythium dimorphum and the blue stain fungus Ceratocystis polonica, variable levels of SPI1 was detected during the first day as a response to the infection, however a significant increase was seen as an initial response to the root-rot fungus Heterobasidion annosum. After the first day of infection, the amount of SPI1 polypeptide was dramatically reduced in response to either of the pathogens, but not in response to the ectomycorrhizal fungus Laccaria bicolor. During the same time of infection, extensive damage to cortical root cells resulted from the infecting pathogens, but not from the mycorrhiza. These results indicate that pathogens may reduce the level of SPI1 by suppressing its expression, but may also reduce the SPI1 level by invading and disrupting the root cortical cells or by a combination of these mechanisms.

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