Evidence for the involvement of an oxidative stress in the initiation of infection of pear by Erwinia amylovora

J. S. Venisse, G. Gullner, M. N. Brisset

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Involvement of an oxidative burst, usually related to incompatible plant/pathogen interactions leading to hypersensitive reactions, was investigated with Erwinia amylovora, the causal agent of fire blight of Maloideae subfamily of Rosaceae, in interaction with pear (Pyrus communis; compatible situation) and tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum; incompatible situation). As expected, this necrogenic bacterium induced in tobacco a sustained production of superoxide anion, lipid peroxidation, electrolyte leakage, and concomitant increases of several antioxidative enzymes (ascorbate peroxidases, glutathion reductases, glutathion-S-transferases, and peroxidases), in contrast to the compatible pathogen Pseudomonas syringae pv tabaci, which did not cause such reactions. In pear leaves, however, inoculations with both the disease- and the hypersensitive reaction-inducing bacteria (E. amylovora and P. syringae pv tabaci, respectively) resulted in superoxide accumulation, lipid peroxidation, electrolyte leakage, and enzyme induction at similar rates and according to equivalent time courses. The unexpected ability of E. amylovora to generate an oxidative stress even in compatible situation was linked to its functional hrp (for hypersensitive reaction and pathogenicity) cluster because an Hrp secretion mutant of the bacteria did not induce any plant response. It is suggested that E. amylovora uses the production of reactive oxygen species as a tool to provoke host cell death during pathogenesis to invade plant tissues. The bacterial exopolysaccharide could protect this pathogen against the toxic effects of oxygen species since a non-capsular mutant of E. amylovora induced locally the same responses than the wild type but was unable to further colonize the plant.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2164-2172
Number of pages9
JournalPlant physiology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - May 8 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Genetics
  • Plant Science

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