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Protoplasma. 2001;217(1-3):20-32.

Pathogenic infection and the oxidative defences in plant apoplast.

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Division of Biochemistry, School of Biological Sciences, University of London, Egham, U.K.


The structural and functional continuum of the plant apoplast is the first site of contact with a pathogen and plays a crucial role in initiation and coordination of many defence responses. In this paper, we present an overview of the involvement of the plant apoplast in plant-pathogen interactions. The process of infection of French bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) plants by Colletotrichum lindemuthianum is analysed. The ultrastructural features of plant defence responses to fungal infection are then compared with those observed in plants or cell suspensions treated with various elicitors. Changes in cell walls and in whole plant cells responding to infection seem to be highly similar in all systems used. Model systems of French bean and white lupin (Lupinus albus L.) are then utilised to provide some biochemical characteristics of oxidative reactions in the apoplast evoked by elicitor treatment. The species specificity of various mechanisms generating reactive oxygen species is discussed, and some details of pH-dependent H2O2-generating activity of peroxidases are demonstrated. As its exocellular nature is an important feature of the oxidative burst, the major consequence of this event, i.e., the oxidative cross-linking of wall components during the papilla formation and strengthening of the walls, is analysed. Finally, the possible involvement of other wall-associated and developmentally regulated H2O2-generating mechanisms, like amine and oxalate oxidases, in plant defence is demonstrated. It is concluded that under stress conditions, such apoplastic mechanisms might be employed to increase plants' chances of survival.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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