Elicitor induction of defence genes and reduction of bacterial canker in kiwifruit
Pseudomonas syringae pv. actinidiae (Psa), which causes bacterial canker, is the most serious global pathogen of kiwifruit. Like most bacterial pathogens, control options are limited, but elicitors can reduce disease significantly, particularly those that induce the salicylic acid (SA) pathway. Acibenzolar-S-methyl (ASM), a SA analogue, is one of the most effective elicitors for Psa control. In this study, real-time PCR (qPCR) was used to measure the expression of 18 putative defence genes in Actinidia chinensis var. chinensis ‘Hort16A’ in response to Psa and ASM. Application of ASM led to up-regulation of RPM1 interacting protein 4 (RIN4), phenylalanine ammonia lyase (PAL), a hypersensitivity-induced response protein (HIRP), and β-1,3-glucosidase. Expression of PAL and HIRP was further enhanced when elicitor application and Psa-inoculation were combined. Elevated gene expression was correlated with decreased disease expression, and supports the hypothesis that elicitor-treated plants are primed to react more rapidly and/or strongly to pathogens.