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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Gainesville, Florida » Center for Medical, Agricultural and Veterinary Entomology » Chemistry Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #325569

Research Project: Impact of Climate Change on Plant Defense Responses Induced by Insect Herbivores and Plant Pathogens

Location: Chemistry Research

Title: Maize pathogens suppress inducible phytoalexin production to thwart innate plant immunity

Author
item Christensen, Shawn
item Sims, James - Eth Zurich
item Huffaker, Alisa - University Of California
item Hunter, Charles
item Block, Anna
item Schmelz, Eric - University Of California

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/20/2016
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Kauralexins (KA) and zealexins (ZA) are newly described secondary metabolites in maize that serve as inducible chemical defenses against insects and pathogens. In contrast to the abundance of terpene volatiles in leaves, these non-volatile terpenoid phytoalexins are only mildly produced in response to insect herbivory; however, they are strongly induced by pathogen infection. While KAs and ZAs demonstrate antimicrobial properties, the aptitude of pathogenic fungi to manipulate their production remains unknown. We profiled phytoalexins and other common defense metabolites in nine commercial hybrid lines infected with three diverse pathogenic fungi. The necrotroph <i>Cochliobolus heterostrophus</i> induced a typical response with heightened levels of jasmonic acid, 12-oxo phytodienoic acid, salicylic acid, and phytoalexins including a novel terpenoid zealexin, designated zealexin A4. The hemi-biotroph <i>Colletotrichum graminicola</i> caused strong suppression of both kauralexins and zealexins. Interestingly, kauralexins were significantly active against <i>C. graminicola</i> as evidence by reduced growth when exposed to endogenous occurring levels of kauralexins A2/B2 in anti-fungal bioactivity assays. Similarly, <i>Fusarium graminearum</i> infection repressed zealexin A4 production in infected maize tissues, and growth of <i>F. graminearum</i> was highly inhibited by zealexin A4 <i>in vitro</i>. These data indicate that maize pathogens manipulate phytoalexin production in attempt to avoid effective innate immunity.