To understand further the role of deoxynivalenol (DON) in development of Fusarium head blight (FHB), we investigated effects of the toxin on uninfected barley tissues. Leaf segments, 1 to 1.2 cm long, partially stripped of epidermis were floated with exposed mesophyll in contact with DON solutions. In initial experiments with the leaf segments incubated in light, DON at 30 to 90 ppm turned portions of stripped tissues white after 48 to 96 h. The bleaching effect was greatly enhanced by addition of 1 to 10 mM Ca2+, so that DON at 10 to 30 ppm turned virtually all stripped tissues white within 48 h. Content of chlorophylls a and b and of total carotenoid pigment was reduced. Loss of electrolytes and uptake of Evans blue indicated that DON had a toxic effect, damaging plasmalemmas in treated tissues before chloroplasts began to lose pigment. When incubated in the dark, leaf segments also lost electrolytes, indicating DON was toxic although the tissues remained green. Thus, loss of chlorophyll in light was due to photobleaching and was a secondary effect of DON, not required for toxicity. In contrast to bleaching effects, some DON treatments that were not toxic kept tissues green without bleaching or other signs of injury, indicating senescence was delayed compared with slow yellowing of untreated leaf segments. Cycloheximide, which like DON, inhibits protein synthesis, also bleached some tissues and delayed senescence of others. Thus, the effects of DON probably relate to its ability to inhibit protein synthesis. With respect to FHB, the results suggest DON may have multiple roles in host cells of infected head tissues, including delayed senescence in early stages of infection and contributing to bleaching and death of cells in later stages.
- Trichothecene toxin