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Research article2018Peer reviewedOpen access

Plant immunity in natural populations and agricultural fields: Low presence of pathogenesis-related proteins in Solanum leaves

Lankinen, Asa; Abreha, Kibrom B.; Masini, Laura; Ali, Ashfaq; Resjo, Svante; Andreasson, Erik


Plant immunity has mainly been studied under controlled conditions, limiting our knowledge regarding the regulation of immunity under natural conditions where plants grow in association with multiple microorganisms. Plant pathology theory, based on laboratory data, predicts complex biochemical plant-pathogen interactions leading to coevolution of pathogen infectivity vs. plant recognition of microbes in multiple layers over time. However, plant immunity is currently not evaluated in relation to ecological time-scales and field conditions. Here we report status of immunity in plants without visible disease symptoms in wild populations of nightshades, Solanum dulcamara and Solanum nigrum, and in agricultural fields of potato, Solanum tuberosum. We analysed presence of pathogenesis-related proteins in over 500 asymptomatic leaf samples collected in the field in June, July and August over three years. Pathogenesis-related proteins were present in only one-third of the collected samples, suggesting low activity of the immune system. We could also detect an increase in pathogenesis-related proteins later in the growing season, particularly in S. tuberosum. Our findings, based on pathogenesis-related protein markers, indicate major gaps in our knowledge regarding the status and regulation of plant immunity under field conditions.

Published in

2018, Volume: 13, number: 11, article number: e0207253Publisher: PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE