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J Exp Bot. 2009;60(15):4287-300. doi: 10.1093/jxb/erp269.

Effects of beta-1,3-glucan from Septoria tritici on structural defence responses in wheat.

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Department of Plant Biology and Biotechnology, Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Frederiksberg C, Denmark.


The accumulation of the pathogenesis-related (PR) proteins beta-1,3-glucanase and chitinase and structural defence responses were studied in leaves of wheat either resistant or susceptible to the hemibiotrophic pathogen Septoria tritici. Resistance was associated with an early accumulation of beta-1,3-glucanase and chitinase transcripts followed by a subsequent reduction in level. Resistance was also associated with high activity of beta-1,3-glucanase, especially in the apoplastic fluid, in accordance with the biotrophic/endophytic lifestyle of the pathogen in the apoplastic spaces, thus showing the highly localized accumulation of defence proteins in the vicinity of the pathogen. Isoform analysis of beta-1,3-glucanase from the apoplastic fluid revealed that resistance was associated with the accumulation of an endo-beta-1,3-glucanase, previously implicated in defence against pathogens, and a protein with identity to ADPG pyrophosphatase (92%) and germin-like proteins (93%), which may be involved in cell wall reinforcement. In accordance with this, glycoproteins like extensin were released into the apoplast and callose accumulated to a greater extent in cell walls, whereas lignin and polyphenolics were not found to correlate with defence. Treatment of a susceptible wheat cultivar with purified beta-1,3-glucan fragments from cell walls of S. tritici gave complete protection against disease and this was accompanied by increased gene expression of beta-1,3-glucanase and the deposition of callose. Collectively, these data indicate that resistance is dependent on a fast, initial recognition of the pathogen, probably due to beta-1,3-glucan in the fungal cell walls, and this results in the accumulation of beta-1,3-glucanase and structural defence responses, which may directly inhibit the pathogen and protect the host against fungal enzymes and toxins.

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