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Phytopathology. 2016 Aug;106(8):877-83. doi: 10.1094/PHYTO-10-15-0278-R. Epub 2016 May 27.

Nongenetic Inheritance of Induced Resistance in a Wild Annual Plant.

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First, second, third, and fifth authors: Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Plant Protection Biology, P.O. Box 102, S-230 53 Alnarp, Sweden; and fourth author: Department of Biology, Lund University, Ecology Building, S-223 62 Lund, Sweden.


Nongenetic inheritance (e.g., transgenerational epigenetic effects) has received increasing interest in recent years, particularly in plants. However, most studies have involved a few model species and relatively little is known about wild species in these respects. We investigated transgenerational induced resistance to infection by the devastating oomycete Phytophthora infestans in Solanum physalifolium, a wild relative of cultivated potato. We treated plants with β-aminobutyric acid (BABA), a nontoxic compound acting as an inducing agent, or infected plants with P. infestans. BABA treatment reduced lesion size in detached-leaf assays inoculated by P. infestans in two of three tested genotypes, suggesting that resistance to oomycetes can be induced by BABA within a generation not only in crops or model species but also in wild species directly collected from nature. Both BABA treatment and infection in the parental generation reduced lesions in the subsequent generation in one of two genotypes, indicating a transgenerational influence on resistance that varies among genotypes. We did not detect treatment effects on seed traits, indicating the involvement of a mechanism unrelated to maternal effects. In conclusion, our study provides data on BABA induction and nongenetic inheritance of induced resistance in a wild relative of cultivated potato, implying that this factor might be important in the ecological and agricultural landscape.

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