Powdery mildew (PM) caused by Podosphaera xanthii is one of the most important courgette diseases with high yield losses and is currently controlled by fungicides and sulphur applications in conventional and organic production. Plant derived elicitors/inducers of resistance are natural compounds that induce resistance to pathogen attack and promote a faster and/or more robust activation of plant defense responses. Giant knotweed (Reynoutria sachalinensis, RS) extract is a known elicitor of plant defenses but its mode of action remains elusive. The aim of this study was to investigate the mechanisms of foliar RS applications and how these affect PM severity and crop performance when used alone or in combination with genetic resistance. RS foliar treatments significantly reduced conidial germination and PM severity on both an intermediate resistance (IR) and a susceptible (S) genotype. RS application triggered plant defense responses, which induced the formation of callose papillae, hydrogen peroxide accumulation and the Salicylic acid (SA) - dependent pathway. Increased SA production was detected along with increased p-coumaric and caffeic acid concentrations. These findings clearly indicate that RS elicits plant defenses notably as a consequence of SA pathway induction.

Theoni Margaritopoulou, Eleftheria Toufexi, Dimosthenis Kizis, George Balayiannis, Christos Anagnostopoulos, Andreas Theocharis, Leonidas Rempelos, Yerasimos Troyanos, Carlo Leifert, Emilia Markellou
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