Helsingin yliopisto

 

Helsingin yliopiston verkkojulkaisut

University of Helsinki, Helsinki 2006

Pathogen-Induced Defense Signaling and Signal Crosstalk in Arabidopsis

Tarja Kariola

Doctoral dissertation, October 2006.
University of Helsinki, Faculty of Biosciences, Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, Division of genetics.

Erwinia carotovora subsp. carotovora is a bacterial phytopathogen that causes soft rot in various agronomically important crop plants. A genetically specified resistance to E. carotovora has not been defined, and plant resistance to this pathogen is established through nonspecific activation of basal defense responses. This, together with the broad host range, makes this pathogen a good model for studying the activation of plant defenses. Production and secretion of plant cell wall-degrading enzymes (PCWDE) are central to the virulence of E. carotovora. It also possesses the type III secretion system (TTSS) utilized by many Gram-negative bacteria to secrete virulence- promoting effector proteins to plant cells. This study elucidated the role of E. carotovora HrpN (HrpNEcc), an effector protein secreted through TTSS, and the contribution of this protein in the virulence of E. carotovora. Treatment of plants with HrpNEcc was demonstrated to induce a hypersensitive response (HR) as well as resistance to E. carotovora. Resistance induced by HrpNEcc required both salicylic acid (SA)- and jasmonate/ethylene (JA/ET)-dependent defense signaling in Arabidopsis. Simultaneous treatment of Arabidopsis with HrpNEcc and PCWDE polygalacturonase PehA elicited accelerated and enhanced induction of defense genes but also increased production of superoxide and lesion formation. This demonstrates mutual amplification of defense signaling by these two virulence factors of E. carotovora. Identification of genes that are rapidly induced in response to a pathogen can provide novel information about the early events occurring in the plant defense response. CHLOROPHYLLASE 1 (AtCLH1) and EARLY RESPONSIVE TO DEHYDRATION 15 (ERD15) are both rapidly triggered by E. carotovora in Arabidopsis. Characterization of AtCLH1 encoding chlorophyll-degrading enzyme chlorophyllase indicated that it might have a role in chlorophyll degradation during plant tissue damage. Silencing of this gene resulted in increased accumulation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in response to pathogen infection in a light-dependent manner. This led to enhanced SA-dependent defenses and resistance to E. carotovora. Moreover, crosstalk between different defense signaling pathways was observed; JA-dependent defenses and resistance to fungal pathogen Alternaria brassicicola were impaired, indicating antagonism between SA- and JA-dependent signaling. Characterization of ERD15 suggested that it is a novel, negative regulator of abscisic acid (ABA) signaling in Arabidopsis. Overexpression of ERD15 resulted in insensitivity to ABA and reduced tolerance of the plants to dehydration stress. However, simultaneously, the resistance of the plants to E. carotovora was enhanced. Silencing of ERD15 improved freezing and drought tolerance of transgenic plants. This, together with the reducing effect of ABA on seed germination, indicated hypersensitivity to this phytohormone. ERD15 was hypothesized to act as a capacitor that controls the appropriate activation of ABA responses in Arabidopsis.

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Last updated 18.09.2006

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