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J Exp Bot. 2010 Jun;61(6):1807-16. doi: 10.1093/jxb/erq047. Epub 2010 Mar 19.

Ergosterol triggers characteristic elicitation steps in Beta vulgaris leaf tissues.

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  • 1University of Poitiers, CNRS FRE 3091 Molecular Physiology of Sugar Transport in Plants, 40 avenue du Recteur Pineau, F-86022 Poitiers Cedex, France.


This study investigates the role of the fungal sterol ergosterol as a general elicitor in the triggering of plant innate immunity in sugar beet. Evidence for this specific function of ergosterol is provided by careful comparison with cholesterol and three plant sterols (stigmasterol, campesterol, sitosterol), which do not enable the integrity of responses leading to elicitation. Our results demonstrate the modification of H(+) flux by ergosterol, due to the direct inhibition of the H(+)-ATPase activity on plasma membrane vesicles purified from leaves. The ergosterol-induced oxidative burst is related to enhanced NADPH-oxidase and superoxide dismutase activities. The similar effects obtained with the fungal elicitor chitosan further reinforce the particular role of ergosterol in the induced defences. The involvement of salicylic acid and/or jasmonic acid signalling in the ergosterol-enhanced plant non-host resistance is also studied. The possible link between ergosterol-triggered plant innate immunity and its putative impact on the structural organization of plant plasma membrane are discussed in terms of the ability of this fungal sterol to promote the formation of lipid rafts.

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