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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2014

Activation of defence responses to Phytophthora infestans in potato by BABA

Bengtsson, Therese; Holefors, Anna; Witzell, Johanna; Andreasson, Erik; Liljeroth, Erland


Late blight caused by Phytophthora infestans is one of the most devastating diseases of the potato crop. Resistance breeding and current fungicides are unable to control the rapidly evolving P. infestans and new control strategies are urgently needed. This study examined mechanisms of dl-β-aminobutyric acid (BABA)-induced resistance (IR) in the potato-P. infestans system. Leaves from two cultivars that differ in their degree of resistance, Bintje and Ovatio, were analysed after foliar treatment with BABA. Rapid activation of various defence responses and a significant reduction in P. infestans growth were observed in leaves treated with BABA. In the more resistant cultivar, Ovatio, the activation was both faster and stronger than in Bintje. Microscopic analysis of leaves treated with BABA revealed induction of small hypersensitive response (HR)-like lesions surrounded by callose, as well as production of hydrogen peroxide (H2O2). Molecular and chemical analyses revealed soluble phenols such as arbutin and chlorogenic acid and activation of PR-1. These results show a direct activation of defence responses in potato, rather than priming as reported for other plant species. They also show that the efficiency of BABA-IR differs between cultivars, which highlights the importance of taking all aspects into consideration when establishing new methods for disease management.


dl--aminobutyric acid; hypersensitive response; induced resistance; Solanum tuberosum

Published in

Plant Pathology
2014, Volume: 63, number: 1, pages: 193-202