Induction of transient ethylene and reduction in severity of tomato bacterial wilt by Pythium oligandrum

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Pythium oligandrum (PO) is a mycoparasite on a wide range of fungi and suppresses diseases caused by fungal pathogens when colonizing the rhizosphere. PO and its cell wall proteins (CWPs) have elicitor activity that induces defence responses in plants. The potential of a mycelial homogenate of PO to suppress bacterial diseases was studied in roots of tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum cv. Micro-Tom) inoculated with Ralstonia solanacearum. PO-treated plants showed enhanced resistance to R. solanacearum and reduction in severity of wilt symptoms. As ethylene often acts as one of the signal molecules for induced resistance, its production following treatment of tomato roots with the mycelial homogenate or CWP of PO was measured. The level of ethylene in PO- and CWP-treated plants was transiently elevated six- to 11-fold at 4–8 h after treatment, followed by high expression of three basic ethylene-inducible defence-related genes (PR-2b, PR-3b and PR-5b). Analysis of PR-5b gene expression in the leaves of PO- and CWP-treated plants suggested that PR gene expression was induced systemically. The expression of LeERF2 and LeETR4, which confer an ethylene-dependent signalling pathway, was also significantly accelerated by such treatments. These results indicate that PO has the potential to control bacterial wilt disease and that CWP may play an important role in the induction of resistance to R. solanacearum accompanying the activation of the ethylene-dependent signalling pathway.

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