Systemic expression of defense response genes in wheat spikes as a response to Fusarium graminearum infection

Clara Pritsch, Carroll P. Vance, William R. Bushnell, David A. Somers, Thomas M. Hohn, Gary J. Muehlbauer

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85 Scopus citations


Wheat spikes infected by Fusarium graminearum result in Fusarium head blight, a devastating disease of wheat. The spikes respond to infection by inducing a set of defense response genes in infected spikelets much as has been shown in other plant-pathogen interactions. To determine whether defense response genes are expressed systemically within F. graminearum-inoculated wheat spikes, we examined transcript accumulation of four defense response genes (peroxidase, PR-1, PR-3 and PR-5) in colonized and uncolonized portions of wheat spikes of resistant and susceptible genotypes. We determined whether sampled regions of point-inoculated wheat spikes were colonized or not using a Fusarium spp.-specific plate assay and an F. graminearum isolate expressing β-glucuronidase (GUS). The GUS-expressing F. graminearum isolate proved particularly useful for visualizing and following the spread of the fungus and for measuring the amount of fungal biomass in spike tissues. We found that transcripts of the four defense response genes accumulated in both colonized and uncolonized regions of spikes of resistant and susceptible genotypes at 48 h after inoculation. These results demonstrate that direct contact with the pathogen is not required for induction of defense response genes and that these genes are activated in both susceptible and resistant genotypes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalPhysiological and Molecular Plant Pathology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2001

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by a grant to G.J.M. and D.A.S. from the Minnesota State Legislative Scab Initiative. C.P. was partially supported by BID-CONICYT (URUGUAY). We thank R. Dill-Macky (University of Minnesota) for providing F. graminearum isolate 3A-31, R. Dudler (University of Zurich) for the wheat peroxidase clone, H. Thordal Christensen (KVL, Denmark) for the barley PR-3 and PR-5 clones and L. Friedrich (NOVARTIS) for the wheat PR1-2 clone. We also thank Ruth Dill-Macky and Corby Kistler for critical reading of the manuscript.


  • Defense response genes
  • Fusarium graminearum
  • Fusarium head blight
  • SAR
  • Systemic response
  • Triticum aestivum L.
  • β-glucuronidase


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