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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: NOVEL WEED MANAGEMENT SOLUTIONS: A BASIS IN UNDERSTANDING BUD AND SEED DORMANCY

Location: Sunflower Research

Title: Induction of polyphenol oxidase activity in dormant wild oat (Avena fatua) seeds and caryopses: a defense response to seed decay fungi

Authors
item Fuerst, Eugene -
item Anderson, James
item Kennedy, Ann
item Gallagher, Robert -

Submitted to: Weed Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: December 9, 2010
Publication Date: April 1, 2011
Citation: Fuerst, E.P., Anderson, J.V., Kennedy, A.C., Gallagher, R.S. 2011. Induction of polyphenol oxidase activity in dormant wild oat (Avena fatua) seeds and caryopses: a defense response to seed decay fungi. Weed Science. 59(2):137-144.

Interpretive Summary: There is little or no information evaluating biochemical responses of dormant weed seeds to pathogens. In this study, we screened several isolates of pathogenic fungi to determine their effect on induction a defense enzyme, polyphenol oxidase (PPO), in wild oat caryopses. An isolate of one pathogenic fungus, Fusarium avenaceum (F.a.1), caused the greatest induction of PPO activity in wild oat caryopses. Incubation of F.a.1-treated wild oat caryopses in buffer allowed more soluble PPO activity to be observed in the surrounding buffer, compared to incubation of untreated caryopses. The greater solubility and activity of PPO in the buffer incubated with F.a.1-treated caryopses appears to be related to proteolytic processing of PPO in response to exposure to the pathogenic fungi. We hypothesize that dormant weed seeds possess biochemical defenses against pathogens and, more specifically, that proteolysis in the presence of fungal pathogens may release an activated form of PPO from the surface of wild oat caryopses and hulls.

Technical Abstract: Persistence of the soil seed bank requires both dormancy and resistance to seed decay organisms. However, there is little or no information evaluating biochemical responses of dormant weed seeds to pathogens. Wild oat caryopses were incubated with four pathogenic fungal isolates to evaluate the response of the pathogen defense enzyme, polyphenol oxidase (PPO). Caryopsis PPO activity was induced by three Fusarium spp. isolates previously obtained from whole seeds incubated in the field whereas caryopsis PPO activity was decreased by a Pythium isolate. Fusarium avenaceum isolate F.a.1 caused the greatest PPO induction and was studied in more detail. When whole wild oat seeds were incubated on F.a.1, PPO activity was induced in seeds, hulls (lemma and palea), and caryopses. Incubation of whole seeds on F.a.1 gradually induced caryopsis PPO activity over an 8-day period, whereas incubation of caryopses on F.a.1 over a 4-day period caused a greater and more rapid induction of PPO activity. Very little PPO activity could be leached from untreated caryopses but nearly all of the induced PPO activity in F.a.1-treated caryopses was readily leached when incubated in buffer. In Western blots, both untreated and F.a.1-treated leachates contained a ~57 kD protein, putatively the mature and relatively inactive form of PPO. However, lower molecular weight antigenic proteins between ~52 and ~25 kD were strongly induced in F.a.1-treated caryopses, with this induction being correlated with the increase in PPO activity. We hypothesize that dormant weed seeds possess biochemical defenses against pathogens and, more specifically, that proteolysis in the presence of fungal pathogens may release an activated form of PPO from the surface of wild oat caryopses and hulls.

Last Modified: 8/30/2014
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