Host–Pathogen Interactions in Douglas-Fir Seedlings Infected by Phellinus sulphurascens
- R. N. Sturrock
- M. A. Islam
- A. K. M. Ekramoddoullah
Several aspects of the host–pathogen interaction between Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) and the fungal pathogen Phellinus sulphurascens were investigated in an in vitro inoculation system using young seedlings and fungal mycelia. Light microscopy confirmed that P. sulphurascens mycelia can successfully penetrate host epidermal cells within 3 days postinoculation (dpi). Extensive fungal colonization and cortical cell decay occurred within 14 dpi. Western immunoblot studies showed significant upregulation (five to sixfold) of four specific pathogenesis-related (PR) proteins in infected roots. These proteins were a Douglas-fir thaumatin-like protein (PmTLP), an endochitinase protein (ECP), a Douglas-fir PR10 (DF-PR10) protein (PsemI), and a 10.6-kDa antimicrobial peptide (PmAMP1). The highest accumulation of PmTLP and PmAMP1 occurred at 12 dpi, whereas accumulations of the ECP and DF-PR10 proteins peaked at 7 dpi. For both inoculated and control Douglas-fir seedlings, only one of the four PR proteins, PmAMP1, was clearly detectable in needles. Immunolocalization experiments using fluorescein isothiocyanate-conjugated secondary antibodies confirmed accumulation of all four PR proteins mainly in and around cell walls of root cortical tissues. Overall, the highest immunofluorescence was observed in infected roots at 12 dpi, whereas labeling in control roots was negligible at all sample times. The ECP produced the highest fluorescence; the DF-PR10 the lowest. Upregulation and localization of these PR proteins in cortical tissues of inoculated roots suggest that they play a defensive role in response to infection by P. sulphurascens. This in vitro inoculation system will facilitate further proteomic and genomic studies of this important pathosystem.