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Mol Plant Pathol. 2014 Aug;15(6):550-62. doi: 10.1111/mpp.12112. Epub 2014 Feb 14.

Hexanoic acid protects tomato plants against Botrytis cinerea by priming defence responses and reducing oxidative stress.

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Departamento de Bioquímica y Biología Molecular, Instituto de Agroquímica y Tecnología de los Alimentos (IATA, CSIC), Universidad de Valencia, Avda. Agustín Escardino 7, 46980, Paterna, Valencia, Spain.


Treatment with the resistance priming inducer hexanoic acid (Hx) protects tomato plants from Botrytis cinerea by activating defence responses. To investigate the molecular mechanisms underlying hexanoic acid-induced resistance (Hx-IR), we compared the expression profiles of three different conditions: Botrytis-infected plants (Inf), Hx-treated plants (Hx) and Hx-treated + infected plants (Hx+Inf). The microarray analysis at 24 h post-inoculation showed that Hx and Hx+Inf plants exhibited the differential expression and priming of many Botrytis-induced genes. Interestingly, we found that the activation by Hx of other genes was not altered by the fungus at this time point. These genes may be considered to be specific targets of the Hx priming effect and may help to elucidate its mechanisms of action. It is noteworthy that, in Hx and Hx+Inf plants, there was up-regulation of proteinase inhibitor genes, DNA-binding factors, enzymes involved in plant hormone signalling and synthesis, and, remarkably, the genes involved in oxidative stress. Given the relevance of the oxidative burst occurring in plant-pathogen interactions, the effect of Hx on this process was studied in depth. We showed by specific staining that reactive oxygen species (ROS) accumulation in Hx+Inf plants was reduced and more restricted around infection sites. In addition, these plants showed higher ratios of reduced to oxidized glutathione and ascorbate, and normal levels of antioxidant activities. The results obtained indicate that Hx protects tomato plants from B. cinerea by regulating and priming Botrytis-specific and non-specific genes, preventing the harmful effects of oxidative stress produced by infection.


Botrytis cinerea; defence inducer; defence response; hexanoic acid; oxidative stress; priming

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