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Plant Physiol Biochem. 2012 Oct;59:37-43. doi: 10.1016/j.plaphy.2012.01.014. Epub 2012 Jan 25.

The Janus face of reactive oxygen species in resistance and susceptibility of plants to necrotrophic and biotrophic pathogens.

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Plant Protection Institute, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, P.O. Box 102, 1525 Budapest, Hungary.


Plant pathogens can be divided into biotrophs and necrotrophs according to their different life styles; biotrophs prefer living, while necrotrophs prefer dead cells for nutritional purposes. Therefore tissue necrosis caused by reactive oxygen species (ROS) during pathogen infection increases host susceptibility to necrotrophic, but resistance to biotrophic pathogen. Consequently, elevation of antioxidant capacity of plants enhances their tolerance to development of necroses caused by necrotrophic pathogens. Plant hormones can strongly influence induction of ROS and antioxidants, thereby influencing susceptibility or resistance of plants to pathogens. Pathogen-induced ROS themselves are considered as signaling molecules. Generally, salicylic acid (SA) signaling induces defense against biotrophic pathogens, whereas jasmonic acid (JA) against necrotrophic pathogens. Furthermore pathogens can modify plant's defense signaling network for their own benefit by changing phytohormone homeostasis. On the other hand, ROS are harmful also to the pathogens, consequently they try to defend themselves by elevating antioxidant activity and secreting ROS scavengers in the infected tissue. The Janus face nature of ROS and plant cell death on biotrophic and on necrotrophic pathogens is also supported by the experiments with BAX inhibitor-1 and the mlo mutation of Mlo gene in barley. It was found that ROS and elevated plant antioxidant activity play an important role in systemic acquired resistance (SAR) and induced systemic resistance (ISR), as well as in mycorrhiza induced abiotic and biotic stress tolerance of plants.

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