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The mechanism of plant pathogen interaction

Plant pathogens often enhance development at the expense of defence pathways. Understanding the crosstalk between plants and pathogens is central for plant health.
The mechanism of plant pathogen interaction
In plants, phytohormones coordinate growth and development. Many pathogens are able to produce or induce the secretion of developmental hormones to suppress plant defence.

Auxin is a growth regulator that can function as a positive regulator of virulence as it has been implicated in pathogen resistance and response to tumour-inducing pathogens. However, the mechanisms underlying the role of auxin during plant pathogen interactions are not yet understood.

The EU-funded STRESS AND DEV (Investigation of the interplay between the developmental responses induced by growth hormones and the response to biotrophic pathogens) project worked to shed light into the mechanisms of such plant-pathogen interactions. They focused on the interaction of two growth hormones (auxin and cytokinin) with salicylic acid (SA) signalling – the main defence pathway against biotrophic pathogenic microorganisms.

Researchers performed in vitro experiments in Arabidopsis thaliana seedlings challenged with Plasmodiophora brassicae. This pathogen induces gall formation as well as the damaging disease clubroot. Treatment of plants with SA prevented lateral root formation by auxin, while auxin signalling was discovered to play a role in the inhibition of gall symptom development. Furthermore, abrogation of auxin regulators rendered the plant more susceptible to P. brassicae, indicating that auxin functions as a positive regulator of plant pathogen responses.

Collectively, the STRESS AND DEV study results demonstrate that the balance between auxin and SA regulates the plant response to their environment. With respect to plant-pathogen crosstalk, the generated mechanistic insight can be exploited towards the development of more productive and pathogen resistant crop varieties.

Related information

Keywords

Plant, pathogen, auxin, STRESS AND DEV, salicylic acid
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