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Summary

Expansins are cell wall loosening agents, known for their endogenous function in cell wall extensibility. The Arabidopsis expansin-like A2 (EXLA2) gene was identified by its down-regulation in response to infection by the necrotrophic pathogen Botrytis cinerea, and by the reduced susceptibility of an exla2 mutant to the same pathogen. The exla2 mutant was equally susceptible to Pseudomonas syringae pv. tomato, but was more resistant to the necrotrophic fungus Alternaria brassicicola, when compared with the wild-type or with transgenic, ectopic EXLA2-overexpressing lines. The exla2 mutants also enhanced tolerance to the phytoprostane-A1. This suggests that the absence or down-regulation of EXLA2 leads to increased resistance to B. cinerea in a CORONATINE INSENSITIVE 1 (COI1)-dependent manner, and this down-regulation can be achieved by phytoprostane-A1 treatment. EXLA2 is induced significantly by salinity and cold, and by the exogenous application of abscisic acid. The exla2 mutant also showed hypersensitivity towards increased salt and cold, and this hypersensitivity required a functional abscisic acid pathway. The differential temporal expression of EXLA2 and the phenotypes in transgenic plants with altered expression of EXLA2 indicate that plant cell wall structure is an important player during Arabidopsis developmental stages. Our results indicate that EXLA2 appears to be important in response to various biotic and abiotic stresses, particularly in the pathogenesis of necrotrophic pathogens and in the tolerance to abiotic stress.