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Increased susceptibility of Eucalyptus marginata to stem infection by Phytophthora cinnamomi resulting from root hypoxia

Burgess, T.ORCID: 0000-0002-7962-219X, McComb, J.A., Colquhoun, I.J. and Hardy, G.E.St.J. (1999) Increased susceptibility of Eucalyptus marginata to stem infection by Phytophthora cinnamomi resulting from root hypoxia. Plant Pathology, 48 (6). pp. 797-806.

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Eucalyptus marginata growing on rehabilitated bauxite mines may be exposed to waterlogging (hypoxia) at the roots, as well as ponding around the stems at the soil surface. This paper examines whether these conditions may predispose stems of E. marginata to infection by Phytophthora cinnamomi. Plants of E. marginata clones resistant and susceptible to P. cinnamomi were grown in an aeroponics system that could be sealed to allow the manipulation of oxygen levels in the root zone to simulate waterlogging. Plants grown under normal oxygen conditions were compared with those whose root zone was exposed to hypoxia (2mgO<sub>2</sub>L<sup>-1</sup>) before, during or after the sterns were inoculated with zoospores of E cinnamomi. Inoculation was achieved by constructing receptacles around the stems that could hold water and zoospores. Stomatal conductance increased in plants whose roots had been exposed to hypoxia. This effect lasted for at least 2 weeks after the resumption of normal oxygen conditions. P. cinnamomi entered and colonized ponded stems; however, there were no visible lesions on stems 14 days after inoculation. For any given clone of E. marginata, the extent of colonization was significantly greater in stems whose root zone had been exposed to hypoxia than in control stems. The activity of the plant defence-associated enzymes PAL, 4-CL and CAD and the concentrations of soluble phenolics were higher in the stems of plants whose roots were exposed to hypoxia, but the increase in activity in response to colonization was much greater for plants whose roots were under normal aerobic conditions. The greatest difference between colonized and noninoculated plants was observed at the colonization front. Peroxidase activity increased after tissues were colonized, rather than preceding the colonization as seen with the other enzymes. The stress induced by root hypoxia remained after roots were returned to normal oxygen conditions. Plants with root hypoxia showed greater stem colonization by P. cinnamomi and seemed less able to recognize the pathogen and switch on rapid defence responses.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Centre for Phytophthora Science and Management
School of Biological Sciences and Biotechnology
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell
Copyright: (c) 1999 BSPP
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