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Publications - Stress and Develop Biology

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Sheikh, A.H.; Raghuram, B.; Eschen-Lippold, L.; Scheel, D.; Lee, J.; Sinha, A.K. Agroinfiltration by cytokinin-producing Agrobacterium strain GV3101 primes defense responses in Nicotiana tabacum. Mol Plant Microbe Interact 27, 1175-1185, (2014) DOI: 10.1094/MPMI-04-14-0114-R

Transient infiltrations in tobacco are commonly used in plant studies but the host response to different disarmed Agrobacterium strains is not fully understood. The present study shows that the pre-treatment with disarmed Agrobacterium tumefaciens strain GV3101 primes the defense response to subsequent infection by Pseudomonas syringae in Nicotiana tabacum. The presence of a trans-zeatin synthase (tzs) gene in strain GV3101 may be partly responsible for the priming response as the tzs deficient Agrobacterium strain LBA4404 only weakly imparts such responses. Besides inducing the expression of defense-related genes like PR-1 and NHL10, GV3101 pre-treatment increased the expression of tobacco mitogen-activated protein kinase pathway genes like MEK2, WIPK and SIPK . Furthermore, the GV3101 strain showed a stronger effect than the LBA4404 strain in activating phosphorylation of the tobacco MAP kinases, WIPK and SIPK, which presumably primes the plant immune machinery. Lower doses of exogenously applied cytokinins increased the activation of MAPKs while higher doses decreased the activation, suggesting a balanced level of cytokinins is required to generate defense response in planta. The current study serves as a cautionary warning for plant researchers over the choice of Agrobacterium strains and their possible consequences on subsequent pathogen-related studies.

Avrova, A.; Knogge, W. Rhynchosporium commune: a persistent threat to barley cultivation Mol Plant Pathol 13, 986-997, (2012) DOI: 10.1111/j.1364-3703.2012.00811.x

Rhynchosporium commune is a haploid fungus causing scald or leaf blotch on barley, other Hordeum spp. and Bromus diandrus.TaxonomyRhynchosporium commune is an anamorphic Ascomycete closely related to the teleomorph Helotiales genera Oculimacula and Pyrenopeziza.Disease symptomsRhynchosporium commune causes scald‐like lesions on leaves, leaf sheaths and ears. Early symptoms are generally pale grey oval lesions. With time, the lesions acquire a dark brown margin with the centre of the lesion remaining pale green or pale brown. Lesions often merge to form large areas around which leaf yellowing is common. Infection frequently occurs in the leaf axil, which can lead to chlorosis and eventual death of the leaf.Life cycleRhynchosporium commune is seed borne, but the importance of this phase of the disease is not fully understood. Debris from previous crops and volunteers, infected from the stubble from previous crops, are considered to be the most important sources of the disease. Autumn‐sown crops can become infected very soon after sowing. Secondary spread of disease occurs mainly through splash dispersal of conidia from infected leaves. Rainfall at the stem extension growth stage is the major environmental factor in epidemic development.Detection and quantificationRhynchosporium commune produces unique beak‐shaped, one‐septate spores both on leaves and in culture. The development of a specific polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and, more recently, quantitative PCR (qPCR) has allowed the identification of asymptomatic infection in seeds and during the growing season.Disease controlThe main measure for the control of R. commune is the use of fungicides with different modes of action, in combination with the use of resistant cultivars. However, this is constantly under review because of the ability of the pathogen to adapt to host plant resistance and to develop fungicide resistance.

Haapalainen, M.; Engelhardt, S.; Küfner, I.; Li, C.-M.; Nürnberger, T.; Lee, J.; Romantschuk, M.; Taira, S. Functional mapping of harpin HrpZ of Pseudomonas syringae reveals the sites responsible for protein oligomerization, lipid interactions and plant defence induction Mol Plant Pathol 12, 151-166, (2011) DOI: 10.1111/j.1364-3703.2010.00655.x

Harpin HrpZ is one of the most abundant proteins secreted through the pathogenesis-associated type III secretion system of the plant pathogen Pseudomonas syringae. HrpZ shows membrane-binding and pore-forming activities in vitro, suggesting that it could be targeted to the host cell plasma membrane. We studied the native molecular forms of HrpZ and found that it forms dimers and higher order oligomers. Lipid binding by HrpZ was tested with 15 different membrane lipids, with HrpZ interacting only with phosphatidic acid. Pore formation by HrpZ in artificial lipid vesicles was found to be dependent on the presence of phosphatidic acid. In addition, HrpZ was able to form pores in vesicles prepared from Arabidopsis thaliana plasma membrane, providing evidence for the suggested target of HrpZ in the host. To map the functions associated with HrpZ, we constructed a comprehensive series of deletions in the hrpZ gene derived from P. syringae pv. phaseolicola, and studied the mutant proteins. We found that oligomerization is mainly mediated by a region near the C-terminus of the protein, and that the same region is also essential for membrane pore formation. Phosphatidic acid binding seems to be mediated by two regions separate in the primary structure. Tobacco, a nonhost plant, recognizes, as a defence elicitor, a 24-amino-acid HrpZ fragment which resides in the region indispensable for the oligomerization and pore formation functions of HrpZ.
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