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Defence responses regulated by jasmonate and delayed senescence caused by ethylene receptor mutation contribute to the tolerance of petunia to Botrytis cinerea


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Ethylene and jasmonate (JA) have powerful effects when plants are challenged by pathogens. The inducible promoter-regulated expression of the Arabidopsis ethylene receptor mutant ethylene-insensitive1-1 (etr1-1) causes ethylene insensitivity in petunia. To investigate the molecular mechanisms involved in transgenic petunia responses to Botrytis cinerea related to the ethylene and JA pathways, etr1-1-expressing petunia plants were inoculated with Botrytis cinerea. The induced expression of etr1-1 by a chemical inducer dexamethasone resulted in retarded senescence and reduced disease symptoms on detached leaves and flowers or intact plants. The extent of decreased disease symptoms correlated positively with etr1-1 expression. The JA pathway, independent of the ethylene pathway, activated petunia ethylene response factor (PhERF) expression and consequent defence-related gene expression. These results demonstrate that ethylene induced by biotic stress influences senescence, and that JA in combination with delayed senescence by etr1-1 expression alters tolerance to pathogens.