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New Phytol. 2009;183(2):432-43. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-8137.2009.02864.x. Epub 2009 May 15.

Quickly-released peroxidase of moss in defense against fungal invaders.

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Department of Applied Biology, PO Box 27, FIN-00014 University of Helsinki, Finland.


Mosses (Bryophyta) are nonvascular plants that constitute a large part of the photosynthesizing biomass and carbon storage on Earth. Little is known about how this important portion of flora maintains its health status. This study assessed whether the moss, Physcomitrella patens, responds to treatment with chitosan, a fungal cell wall-derived compound inducing defense against fungal pathogens in vascular plants. Application of chitosan to liquid culture of P. patens caused a rapid increase in peroxidase activity in the medium. For identification of the peroxidase(s), matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization-time-of-flight (MALDI-TOF)/MS, other methods and the whole-genome sequence of P. patens were utilized. Peroxidase gene knock-out mutants were made and inoculated with fungi. The peroxidase activity resulted from a single secreted class III peroxidase (Prx34) which belonged to a P. patens specific phylogenetic cluster in analysis of the 45 putative class III peroxidases of P. patens and those of Arabidopsis and rice. Saprophytic and pathogenic fungi isolated from another moss killed the Prx34 knockout mutants but did not damage wild-type P. patens. The data point out the first specific host factor that is pivotal for pathogen defense in a nonvascular plant. Furthermore, results provide conclusive evidence that class III peroxidases in plants are needed in defense against hostile invasion by fungi.

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