Infection processes and soft wheat response to root rot and crown rot caused by Fusarium culmorum
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An isolate of the fungus Fusarium culmorum constitutively expressing green fluorescent protein was used to investigate the infection process and host response of primary seedling roots and stem base leaf sheaths of soft wheat cv. Genio. Disease progress was assessed macroscopically by visual symptoms, microscopically by confocal laser scanning microscopy (CLSM) and via gene expression analysis of fungal and wheat genes by real-time quantitative RT-PCR. In the roots, CLSM investigations revealed an initial intercellular and subsequent intracellular colonization by fungal hyphae. The fungus invaded the rhizodermal layer and cortex but was not seen to colonize the stele. The fungus consistently expressed TRI5 (24, 48 and 96h post-inoculation), indicating that trichothecenes were being synthesized throughout this phase of infection and colonization. The expression of the six host defence-associated genes (Wheatwin 1-2, PR1, Chitinase, PAL, WIR1 and LOX) increased early in infection and decreased during later stages. In the stem base, CLSM observations revealed the fungus sequentially penetrating though the first, second and third basal leaf sheaths. Expression of TRI5 was initiated early in the infection of each leaf sheath. The expression of the host defence-associated genes varied over time and across leaf sheaths, and all were also expressed in leaf sheaths which had not yet been in contact with the fungus. Expression of LOX and WIR1 were particularly enhanced in the third leaf sheath. © 2011 The Authors. Plant Pathology © 2011 BSPP.
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