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Phytopathology. 2017 Sep;107(9):1047-1054. doi: 10.1094/PHYTO-02-17-0043-R. Epub 2017 Jul 26.

Growth of Verticillium longisporum in Xylem Sap of Brassica napus is Independent from Cultivar Resistance but Promoted by Plant Aging.

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Department of Crop Sciences, Division of Plant Pathology and Crop Protection, Georg August University, Grisebachstr. 6, 37077 Göttingen, Germany.


As Verticillium stem striping of oilseed rape (OSR), a vascular disease caused by Verticillium longisporum, is extending into new geographic regions and no control with fungicides exists, the demand for understanding mechanisms of quantitative resistance increases. Because V. longisporum is strictly limited to the xylem and resistance is expressed in the systemic stage post root invasion, we investigated a potential antifungal role of soluble constituents and nutritional conditions in xylem sap as determinants of cultivar resistance of OSR to V. longisporum. Assessment of biometric and molecular genetic parameters applied to describe V. longisporum resistance (net area under disease progress curve, stunting, stem thickness, plant biomass, and V. longisporum DNA content) showed consistent susceptibility of cultivar 'Falcon' in contrast to two resistant genotypes, 'SEM' and 'Aviso'. Spectrophotometric analysis revealed a consistently stronger in vitro growth of V. longisporum in xylem sap extracted from OSR compared with the water control. Further comparisons of fungal growth in xylem sap of different cultivars revealed the absence of constitutive or V. longisporum induced antifungal activity in the xylem sap of resistant versus susceptible genotypes. The similar growth of V. longisporum in xylem sap, irrespective of cultivar, infection with V. longisporum and xylem sap filtration, was correlated with about equal amounts of total soluble proteins in xylem sap from these treatments. Interestingly, compared with younger plants, xylem sap from older plants induced significantly stronger fungal growth. Growth enhancement of V. longisporum in xylem sap of aging plants was reflected by increased contents of carbohydrates, which was consistent in mock or V. longisporum-infected plants and independent from cultivar resistance. The improved nutritional conditions in the xylem of more mature plants may explain the late appearance of disease symptoms, which are observed only in late maturity stages of plants in the field. While falsifying the presence of antifungal activity in xylem sap of resistant cultivars, this study strengthens previous findings that indicated a significant role of physical cell wall bound resistance factors involved in quantitative, cultivar-related resistance of B. napus to V. longisporum.

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