Isolation of phytoalexin-deficient mutants of Arabidopsis thaliana and characterization of their interactions with bacterial pathogens.
A genetic approach was used to assess the extent to which a particular plant defense response, phytoalexin biosynthesis, contributes to Arabidopsis thaliana resistance to Pseudomonas syringae pathogens. The A. thaliana phytoalexin, camalexin, accumulated in response to infection by various P. syringae strains. No correlation between pathogen avirulence and camalexin accumulation was observed. A biochemical screen was used to isolate three mutants of A. thaliana ecotype Columbia that were phytoalexin deficient (pad mutants). The mutations pad1, pad2, and pad3 were found to be recessive alleles of three different genes. pad1 and pad2 were mapped to chromosome IV and pad3 was mapped to chromosome III. Infection of pad mutant plants with strains carrying cloned avirulence genes revealed that the pad mutations did not affect the plants' ability to restrict the growth of these strains. This result strongly suggests that in A. thaliana, phytoalexin biosynthesis is not required for resistance to avirulent P. syringae pathogens. Two of the pad mutants displayed enhanced sensitivity to isogenic virulent P. syringae pathogens, suggesting that camalexin may serve to limit the growth of virulent bacteria.