Aphid infestation augments induced resistance against leaf and root pathogens in pepper


Abstract: Plants modulate defence signalling networks in response to different biotic stresses. The present study evaluated the effect of a phloem-sucking aphid on plant defence mechanisms during subsequent pathogen attacks on leaves and rhizosphere bacteria on roots. Plants were pretreated with aphids and/or the chemical trigger benzothiadiazol (BTH) seven days before being challenged with two pathogenic bacteria, Xanthomonas axonopodis pv. vesicatoria (Xav) as a compatible pathogen and X. axonopodis pv. glycines (Xag) as an incompatible (nonhost) pathogen. Disease severity was noticeably lower in aphid- and BTH + aphid-treated plants than in controls. Although treatment with BTH or aphids alone did not affect the hypersensitive response (HR) against Xag 8ra, the combination treatment had a synergistic effect on the HR. The aphid population was reduced by BTH pretreatment and by combination treatment with BTH and bacterial pathogens in a synergistic manner. Analysis of the expression of the defence-related genes Capsicum annum pathogenesis-related gene 9 (CaPR9), chitinase 2 (CaCHI2), SAR8.2 and Iipoxygenase1 (CaLOX1) revealed that aphid infestation resulted in the priming of the systemic defence responses against compatible and incompatible pathogens. Conversely, pre-challenge with the compatible pathogen Xav on pepper leaves significantly reduced aphid numbers. Aphid infestation increased the population of the beneficial Bacillus subtilis GB03 but reduced that of the pathogenic Ralstonia solanacearum SL1931. The expression of defence-related genes in the root and leaf after aphid feeding indicated that the aboveground aphid infestation elicited salicylic acid and jasmonic acid signalling throughout the whole plant. The findings of this study show that aphid feeding elicits plant resistance responses and attracts beneficial bacterial populations to help the plant cope with subsequent pathogen attacks.

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