Induction of systemic resistance to Pythium damping-off in cucumber plants by benzothiadiazole: ultrastructure and cytochemistry of the host response

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Benzo (1,2,3) thiadiazole-7-carbothioic acid S-methyl ester (BTH, CGA 245704), a non-toxic, synthetic chemical, was applied as a foliar spray to cucumber plants and evaluated for its potential to induce defense mechanisms in root tissues infected by the soilborne pathogen, Pythium ultimum Trow. In non-treated cucumber plants, fungal colonization was intense and paralleled marked host tissue damage, whereas in BTH-treated plants, pathogen ingress towards the vascular stele was apparently halted by the massive deposition of a phenolic-enriched material which occluded a large number of cortical and vascular parenchyma cells. This considerable increase in the accumulation of phenolics was accompanied by cytological disorders of the invading pathogen at a time when the wall-bound cellulose component was preserved. In addition to phenolic compounds, the occluding material contained large amounts of β-glucoside residues. These residues gradually decreased in the areas neighboring fungal cells whereas phenolic deposition appeared to be more uniformly distributed throughout the occluded host cells. Pathogen penetration in non-occluded cucumber root cells coincided with other changes, mainly characterized by both the deposition onto the inner surface of the cell walls of some heterogeneous wall appositions and the coating of some intercellular spaces with an electronopaque material. Evidence is provided in this study that BTH has the ability to induce SAR in cucumber. Exogenous, foliar applications of the chemical sensitize susceptible cucumber plants to react more rapidly and more efficiently to P. ultimum attack, mainly through the massive accumulation of phenolic compounds at sites of attempted pathogen penetration.

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