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Keywords:

  • cytosolic Ca2+;
  • elicitor;
  • Fusarium;
  • ion channel;
  • phytoalexin;
  • plant pathogen;
  • reactive oxygen species (ROS)

Summary

  • • 
    Fusaric acid (FA) is a toxin produced by Fusarium species. Most studies on FA have reported toxic effects (for example, alteration of cell growth, mitochondrial activity and membrane permeability) at concentrations greater than 10−5 m. FA participates in fungal pathogenicity by decreasing plant cell viability. However, FA is also produced by nonpathogenic Fusarii, potential biocontrol agents of vascular wilt fusaria. The aim of this study was to determine whether FA, at nontoxic concentrations, could induce plant defence responses.
  • • 
    Nontoxic concentrations of FA were determined from cell-growth and O2-uptake measurements on suspensions of Arabidopsis thaliana cells. Ion flux variations were analysed from electrophysiological and pH measurements. H2O2 and cytosolic calcium were quantified by luminescence techniques.
  • • 
    FA at nontoxic concentrations (i.e. below 10−6 m) was able to induce the synthesis of phytoalexin, a classic delayed plant response to pathogen. FA could also induce rapid responses putatively involved in signal transduction, such as the production of reactive oxygen species, and an increase in cytosolic calcium and ion channel current modulations.
  • • 
    FA can thus act as an elicitor at nanomolar concentrations.