Presymptomatic visualization of plant-virus interactions by thermography

L. Chaerle, [No Value] Van Caeneghem, E. Messens, Hans Lambers, M. Van Montagu, D. Van Der Straeten

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    Salicylic acid (SA), produced by plants as a signal in defense against pathogens, induces metabolic heating mediated by alternative respiration in flowers of thermogenic plants, and, when exogenously applied, increases leaf temperature in nonthermogenic plants. We have postulated that the latter phenomenon would be detectable when SA is synthesized locally in plant leaves. Here, resistance to tobacco mosaic virus (TMV) was monitored thermographically before any disease symptoms became visible on tobacco leaves. Spots of elevated temperature that were confined to the place of infection increased in intensity from 8 h before the onset of visible cell death, and remained detectable as a halo around the ongoing necrosis. Salicylic acid accumulates during the prenecrotic phase in TMV-infected tobacco and is known to induce stomatal closure in certain species. We show that the time course of SA accumulation correlates with the evolution of both localized thermal effect and stomatal closure. Since the contribution of leaf respiration is marginal, we concluded that the thermal effect results predominantly from localized, SA-induced stomatal closure. The presymptomatic temperature increase could be of general significance in incompatible plant-pathogen interactions.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)813-816
    JournalNature Biotechnology
    Publication statusPublished - 1999


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