JOURNAL ARTICLE

Fusaric acid is a crucial factor in the disturbance of leaf water imbalance in Fusarium-infected banana plants

Xian Dong, Ning Ling, Min Wang, Qirong Shen, Shiwei Guo
Plant Physiology and Biochemistry: PPB 2012, 60: 171-9
22964424
Fusarium wilt of banana is caused by Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. cubense infection. The initial chlorosis symptoms occur progressively from lower to upper leaves, with wilt symptoms subsequently occurring in the whole plant. To determine the effect of the pathogen infection on the gas exchange characteristics and water content in banana leaves, hydroponic experiments with pathogen inoculation were conducted in a greenhouse. Compared with control plants, infected banana seedlings showed a higher leaf temperature as determined by thermal imaging. Reduced stomatal conductance (g(s)) and transpiration rate (E) in infected plants resulted in lower levels of water loss than in control plants. Water potential in heavily diseased plants (II) was significantly reduced and the E/g(s) ratio was higher than in noninfected plants, indicating the occurrence of uncontrolled water loss not regulated by stomata in diseased plants. As no pathogen colonies were detected from the infected plant leaves, the crude toxin was extracted from the pathogen culture and evaluated about the effect on banana plant to further investigate the probable reason of these physiological changes in Fusarium-infected banana leaf. The phytotoxin fusaric acid (FA) was found in the crude toxin, and both crude toxin and pure FA had similar effects as the pathogen infection on the physiological changes in banana leaf. Additionally, FA was present at all positions in diseased plants and its concentration was positively correlated with the incidence of disease symptoms. Taken together, these observations indicated that FA secreted by the pathogen is an important factor involved in the disturbance of leaf temperature, resulting in uncontrolled leaf water loss and electrolyte leakage due to damaging the cell membrane. In conclusion, FA plays a critical role in accelerating the development of Fusarium wilt in banana plants by acting as a phytotoxin.

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