A Compromised Mlo Pathway Affects the Response of Barley to the Necrotrophic Fungus Bipolaris sorokiniana (Teleomorph: Cochliobolus sativus) and Its Toxins

Phytopathology. 2001 Feb;91(2):127-33. doi: 10.1094/PHYTO.2001.91.2.127.


ABSTRACT In search of new durable disease resistance traits in barley to control leaf spot blotch disease caused by the necrotrophic fungus Bipolaris sorokiniana (teleomorph: Cochliobolus sativus), we developed macroscopic and microscopic scales to judge spot blotch disease development on barley. Infection of barley was associated with cell wall penetration and accumulation of hydrogen peroxide. The latter appeared to take place in cell wall swellings under fungal penetration attempts as well as during cell death provoked by the necrotrophic pathogen. Additionally, we tested the influence of a compromised Mlo pathway that confers broad resistance against powdery mildew fungus (Blumeria graminis f. sp. hordei). Powdery mildew-resistant genotypes with mutations at the Mlo locus (mlo genotypes) showed a higher sensitivity to infiltration of toxic culture filtrate of Bipolaris sorokiniana as compared with wild-type barley. Mutants defective in Ror, a gene required for mlo-specified powdery mildew resistance, were also more sensitive to Bipolaris sorokiniana toxins than wild-type barley but showed less symptoms than mlo5 parents. Fungal culture filtrates induced an H2O2 burst in all mutants, whereas wild-type (Mlo) barley was less sensitive. The results support the hypothesis that the barley Mlo gene product functions as a suppresser of cell death. Therefore, a compromised Mlo pathway is effective for control of biotrophic powdery mildew fungus but not for necrotrophic Bipolaris sorokiniana. We discuss the problem of finding resistance traits that are effective against both biotrophic and necrotrophic pathogens with emphasis on the role of the anti-oxidative system of plant cells.