Botrytis cinerea induces senescence and is inhibited by autoregulated expression of the IPT gene
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Botrytis cinerea is a non-specific, necrotrophic pathogen that attacks many plant species, including Arabidopsis and tomato. Since senescing leaves are particularly susceptible to infection by B. cinerea, we hypothesized that the fungus might induce senescence as part of its mode of action and that delaying leaf senescence might reduce the severity of B. cinerea infections. To examine these hypotheses, we followed the expression of Arabidopsis SAG12, a senescence-specific gene, upon infection with B. cinerea. Expression of SAG12 is induced by B. cinerea infection, indicating that B. cinerea induces senescence. The promoter of SAG12, as well as that of a second Arabidopsis senescence-associated gene, SAG13, whose expression is not specific to senescence, were previously analyzed in tomato plants and were found to be expressed in a similar manner in the two species. These promoters were previously used in tomato plants to drive the expression of isopentenyl transferase (IPT) from Agrobacterium to suppress leaf senescence (Swartzberg et al. in Plant Biology 8:579–586, 2006). In this study, we examined the expression of these promoters following infection of tomato plants with B. cinerea. Both promoters exhibit high expression levels upon B. cinerea infection of non-senescing leaves of tomato plants, supporting our conclusion that B. cinerea induces senescence as part of its mode of action. In contrast to B. cinerea, Trichoderma harzianum T39, a saprophytic fungus that is used as a biocontrol agent against B. cinerea, induces expression of SAG13 only. Expression of IPT, under the control of the SAG12 and SAG13 promoters in response to infection with B. cinerea resulted in suppression of B. cinerea-induced disease symptoms, substantiating our prediction that delaying leaf senescence might reduce susceptibility to B. cinerea.
KeywordsBotrytis cinerea Cytokinin Promoter Senescence Tomato Trichoderma harzianum T39
This research was supported by The Israel Academy of Science Foundation grant No. 582/01 and by Binational Agricultural Research and Development (BARD) grants No. IS-2894-97 and IS-3326-02C.
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