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Plant Biol (Stuttg). 2012 Mar;14 Suppl 1:31-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1438-8677.2011.00449.x. Epub 2011 Mar 1.

Transgenic expression of polygalacturonase-inhibiting proteins in Arabidopsis and wheat increases resistance to the flower pathogen Fusarium graminearum.

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Dipartimento di Biologia e Biotecnologie Charles Darwin, Sapienza Università di Roma, Rome, Italy.


Fusarium head blight (FHB), caused by Fusarium graminearum, is one of the most important diseases of wheat worldwide, resulting in yield losses and mycotoxin contamination. The molecular mechanisms regulating Fusarium penetration and infection are poorly understood. Beside mycotoxin production, cell wall degradation may play a role in the development of FHB. Many fungal pathogens secrete polygalacturonases (PGs) during the early stages of infection, and plants have evolved polygalacturonase-inhibiting proteins (PGIPs) to restrict pectin degradation during fungal infection. To investigate the role of plant PGIPs in restricting the development of FHB symptoms, we first used Arabidopsis thaliana, whose genome encodes two PGIPs (AtPGIP1 and AtPGIP2). Arabidopsis transgenic plants expressing either of these PGIPs under control of the CaMV 35S promoter accumulate inhibitory activity against F. graminearum PG in their inflorescences, and show increased resistance to FHB. Second, transgenic wheat plants expressing the bean PvPGIP2 in their flowers also had a significant reduction of symptoms when infected with F. graminearum. Our data suggest that PGs likely play a role in F. graminearum infection of floral tissues, and that PGIPs incorporated into wheat may be important for increased resistance to FHB.

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