Background: The Arabidopsis thaliana-Pseudomonas syringae model pathosystem is one of the most widely used systems to understand the mechanisms of microbial pathogenesis and plant innate immunity. Several inoculation methods have been used to study plant-pathogen interactions in this model system. However, none of the methods reported to date are similar to those occurring in nature and amicable to large-scale mutant screens.
Results: In this study, we developed a rapid and reliable seedling flood-inoculation method based on young Arabidopsis seedlings grown on MS medium. This method has several advantages over conventional soil-grown plant inoculation assays, including a shorter growth and incubation period, ease of inoculation and handling, uniform infection and disease development, requires less growth chamber space and is suitable for high-throughput screens. In this study we demonstrated the efficacy of the Arabidopsis seedling assay to study 1) the virulence factors of P. syringae pv. tomato DC3000, including type III protein secretion system (TTSS) and phytotoxin coronatine (COR); 2) the effector-triggered immunity; and 3) Arabidopsis mutants affected in salicylic acid (SA)- and pathogen-associated molecular pattern (PAMPs)-mediated pathways. Furthermore, we applied this technique to study nonhost resistance (NHR) responses in Arabidopsis using nonhost pathogens, such as P. syringae pv. tabaci, pv. glycinea and pv. tomato T1, and confirmed the functional role of FLAGELLIN-SENSING 2 (FLS2) in NHR.
Conclusions: The Arabidopsis seedling flood-inoculation assay provides a rapid, efficient and economical method for studying Arabidopsis-Pseudomonas interactions with minimal growth chamber space and time. This assay could also provide an excellent system for investigating the virulence mechanisms of P. syringae. Using this method, we demonstrated that FLS2 plays a critical role in conferring NHR against nonhost pathovars of P. syringae, but not to Xanthomonas campestris pv. vesicatoria. This method is potentially ideal for high-throughput screening of both Arabidopsis and pathogen mutants.