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Oxidative attack by necrotrophic pathogens: new approaches for an innovative and non-biocidal control of plant diseases

Contract nr: FAIR-CT97-3351
Project nr: 3351
Project type: SC
Starting date: 01/03/1998
Duration: 40 months
Total cost: 1,819,000 EUR
EC Contribution: 1,819,000 EUR
Scientific Officer: Richard HARDWICK
Research topic: Plant health
Acronym: AOS PLANT

Background:
Currently, the control of fungal diseases in all major crops is based on fungicides that possess biocidal activity against the target organism(s). A reduction in the use of such biocidal plant protectants can be achieved in two ways:
1) an improvement of plant resistance by plant breeders;
2) interference with specific fungal pathogenicity factor(s), which are responsible for fungal aggressiveness and infection.
The second strategy requires a comprehensive and detailed knowledge of the infection mechanism. We have located severe gaps in the science of plant pathology and plant protection concerning the 'attack weapons' of the very important necrotrophic pathogens. Necrotrophs need to kill the plant tissue before invading and colonising it. The process of killing (necrotisation) is a crucial step in that it determines the success of infection. For several economically important pathogens such as the grey mould fungus or Botrytis cinerea, the necrotising factors are not known. B. cinerea causes severe losses in a wide range of crops such as rapeseed, sunflower, beans, cabbage, onions, lettuce, strawberries, ornamentals and grapevine. It also represents a post-harvest problem for many fruits. The threat imposed by this fungus requires the intense and constant use of fungicides in many of these crops.

Objectives:
This research collaboration aims at creating a knowledgeable basis for a significant innovation in the protection of plants from fungal diseases. The immediate objectives which can be achieved within this research project are:
1) characterising the oxidative events during infection;
2) identifying sources and induction pathways of active oxygen species;
3) establishing the role of the fungus and the plant in oxidative burst events;
4) pin-pointing sites for a potential disruption of the infection process.
Long-term objectives, which can be achieved as a result of the 3-year work programme, are transferring the described principles of necrotrophy to other necrotrophic pathogens; developing novel strategies of non-biocidal disease control based on inactivated pathogenicity; collaborating with industrial partners to exploit the knowledge for novel disease control strategies; and developing non-biocidal technologies for protecting plants against necrotrophic pathogens. This research proposal describes a highly innovative approach to create the basis for a durable and smooth way of protecting cultivated plants from necrotrophic pathogens. The results from this research will stimulate the producers of plant protectants to design new strategies of control which will meet even tighter environmental requirements than those existing today. Additionally, plant breeders may benefit from this research in their efforts to discover and utilise sources and markers of resistance.

Description:
This research proposal builds on the recent discovery that oxidative forces are involved when B. cinerea infects the plant. We demonstrated that aggressive infections trigger an early 'oxidative burst' in the infected plant cells, which leads to rapid host cell death and thus enables infection. As opposed to biotrophic pathogens, which are hindered by this so-called 'hypersensitive response' (HR), infection by necrotrophs appears to benefit from this plant reaction. We have shown that aggressive 'active oxygen species'(AOS), such as superoxide, hydrogen peroxide and hydroxyl radicals are generated in the early phases of infection but the sources and pathways of their production are completely unknown. The processes underlying this oxidative attack are highly complex and their elucidation requires experts from the different disciplines of plant science, such as plant pathology, fungal and plant genetics, biophysics and biochemistry. We have gathered a group of eminent scientists from Europe and Israel covering these areas, who are dedicated to combining their expertise and make a significant contribution to our understanding of oxidative processes in plant diseases.


Coordinator
Andreas VON TIEDEMANN
University of Rostock
Universitätsplatz 1
D-18051 Rostock
Tel.: +49 381 498 22 00
Fax: +49 381 498 21 99
E-mail: avt@agrarfak.uni-rostock.de


Partners

  • Brian WILLIAMSON
    Scottish Crop Research Institute Co. Ltd.
    Invergowrie
    UK-DD2 Dundee
    Tel.: +44 1382 56 27 31
    Fax: +44 1382 56 24 26
    E-mail: b.williamson@scri.sari.ac.uk

  • Yigal ELAD
    The Volcani Center Agricultural Research Organisation
    Department of Plant Pathology
    P.O. Box 6
    IL-50250 Bet Dagan
    Tel.: +972 39 68 35 80
    Fax: +972 39 68 35 43
    E-mail: vpelady@volcani.agri.gov.il

  • Alfred M. MAYER
    The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
    Givat Ram
    IL-91904 Jerusalem
    Tel.: +972 26 58 52 32
    Fax: +972 26 58 44 25
    E-mail: eitanamm@vms.huji.ac.il

  • Isidro GONZALEZ COLLADO
    Universidad de Cadiz
    Ancha 16
    E-11001 Cadiz
    Tel.: +34 95 683 02 17
    Fax: 34 95 683 49 24
    E-mail: isidro.gonzalez@uca.es

  • Alex LEVINE
    The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
    Givat Ram
    IL-91904 Jerusalem
    Tel.: +972 26 58 65 43
    Fax: +972 26 58 44 25
    E-mail: alex@leonardo.is.huji.ac.il

  • Paul TUDZYNSKI
    Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster
    Schlossplatz 2
    D-48149 Münster
    Tel.: +49 251 832 49 98
    Fax: +49 251 832 38 23
    E-mail: tudzyns@uni-muenster.de

  • Paul M. WOOD
    University of Bristol
    Senate House, Tyndall Avenue
    UK-BS8 1TH Bristol
    Tel.: +44 1179 28 85 94
    Fax: +44 1179 28 82 74
    E-mail: p.wood@bris.ac.uk

  • Jan VAN KAN
    Wageningen Agricultural University
    Costerweg 50
    NL-6701 BH Wageningen
    Tel.: +31 317 48 31 26
    Fax: +31 317 48 34 12
    E-mail: jan.vankan@medew.fyto.wau.nl
 
 
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