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Keywords:

  • endo-β-1,4-glucanases;
  • Botrytis cinerea;
  • defense responses;
  • tomato;
  • fruit;
  • cell wall

Summary

Cel1 and Cel2 are members of the tomato (Solanum lycopersicum Mill) endo-β-1,4-glucanase (EGase) family that may play a role in fruit ripening and organ abscission. This work demonstrates that Cel1 protein is present in other vegetative tissues and accumulates during leaf development. We recently reported the downregulation of both the Cel1 mRNA and protein upon fungal infection, suggesting the involvement of EGases in plant–pathogen interactions. This hypothesis was confirmed by assessing the resistance to Botrytis cinerea infection of transgenic plants expressing both genes in an antisense orientation (Anti-Cel1, Anti-Cel2 and Anti-Cel1-Cel2). The Anti-Cel1-Cel2 plants showed enhanced resistance to this fungal necrotroph. Microscopical analysis of infected leaves revealed that tomato plants accumulated pathogen-inducible callose within the expanding lesion. Anti-Cel1-Cel2 plants presented a faster and enhanced callose accumulation against B. cinerea than wild-type plants. The inhibitor 2-deoxy-d-glucose, a callose synthesis inhibitor, showed a direct relationship between faster callose accumulation and enhanced resistance to B. cinerea. EGase activity appears to negatively modulate callose deposition. The absence of both EGase genes was associated with changes in the expression of the pathogen-related genes PR1 and LoxD. Interestingly, Anti-Cel1-Cel2 plants were more susceptible to Pseudomonas syringae, displaying severe disease symptoms and enhanced bacterial growth relative to wild-type plants. Analysis of the involvement of Cel1 and Cel2 in the susceptibility to B. cinerea in fruits was done with the ripening-impaired mutants Never ripe (Nr) and Ripening inhibitor (rin). The data reported in this work support the idea that enzymes involved in cell wall metabolism play a role in susceptibility to pathogens.