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J Exp Bot. 2012 Jan;63(1):319-27. doi: 10.1093/jxb/err273. Epub 2011 Sep 23.

Nuclear magnetic resonance: a tool for imaging belowground damage caused by Heterodera schachtii and Rhizoctonia solani on sugar beet.

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  • 1Institute of Crop Science and Resource Conservation (INRES)-Phytomedicine, Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn, Nussallee 9, D-53115 Bonn, Germany. chillnhu@uni-bonn.de


Belowground symptoms of sugar beet caused by the beet cyst nematode (BCN) Heterodera schachtii include the development of compensatory secondary roots and beet deformity, which, thus far, could only be assessed by destructively removing the entire root systems from the soil. Similarly, the symptoms of Rhizoctonia crown and root rot (RCRR) caused by infections of the soil-borne basidiomycete Rhizoctonia solani require the same invasive approach for identification. Here nuclear magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was used for the non-invasive detection of belowground symptoms caused by BCN and/or RCRR on sugar beet. Excessive lateral root development and beet deformation of plants infected by BCN was obvious 28 days after inoculation (dai) on MRI images when compared with non-infected plants. Three-dimensional images recorded at 56 dai showed BCN cysts attached to the roots in the soil. RCRR was visualized by a lower intensity of the MRI signal at sites where rotting occurred. The disease complex of both organisms together resulted in RCRR development at the site of nematode penetration. Damage analysis of sugar beet plants inoculated with both pathogens indicated a synergistic relationship, which may result from direct and indirect interactions. Nuclear MRI of plants may provide valuable, new insight into the development of pathogens infecting plants below- and aboveground because of its non-destructive nature and the sufficiently high spatial resolution of the method.

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