, Volume 136, Issue 2, pp 261-271
Date: 11 Jan 2013

Sugar beet extract induces defence against Phytophthora infestans in potato plants

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The aim of this study was to find a natural and cheap agent that could induce defence responses in potato plants to combat Phytophthora infestans, which causes late blight disease that is one of the most devastating plant pathogens in agriculture. We tested whether a sugar beet extract (SBE), derived through a simple extraction procedure from a large-scale plant waste product, induced resistance under green-house conditions. In three potato genotypes differing in their level of resistance to P. infestans (two susceptible genotypes: Desiree and Bintje and one partially resistant: Ovatio), treatment with SBE resulted in significant reduction of the size of the infection lesions in a pattern similar to that seen with application of a known defence-inducing compound, β-aminobutyric acid (BABA). Lower sporangial production was also observed on SBE-treated leaves, but the reduction in sporangial production was more pronounced after BABA treatment. SBE had no apparent toxic effect on the hyphal growth of the pathogen or on the germination of sporangia. Instead, SBE triggered pathogenesis-related protein (PR-1 and PR-2) induction which suggests that the protection conferred by SBE could be via induced resistance. An array of phenolic metabolites was found in the SBE that may contribute to the defence response.