Tomato transcriptional changes in response to Clavibacter michiganensis subsp. michiganensis reveal a role for ethylene in disease development

Vasudevan Balaji, Maya Mayrose, Ofra Sherf, Jasmine Jacob-Hirsch, Rudolf Eichenlaub, Naim Iraki, Shulamit Manulis-Sasson, Gideon Rechavi, Isaac Barash, Guido Sessa*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

86 Scopus citations


Clavibacter michiganensis subsp. michiganensis (Cmm) is a gram-positive actinomycete, causing bacterial wilt and canker disease in tomato (Solanum lycopersicum). Host responses to gram-positive bacteria and molecular mechanisms associated with the development of disease symptoms caused by Cmm in tomato are largely unexplored. To investigate plant responses activated during this compatible interaction, we used microarray analysis to monitor changes in host gene expression during disease development. This analysis was performed at 4 d postinoculation, when bacteria were actively multiplying and no wilt symptoms were yet visible; and at 8 d postinoculation, when bacterial growth approached saturation and typical wilt symptoms were observed. Of the 9,254 tomato genes represented on the array, 122 were differentially expressed in Cmminfected plants, compared with mock-inoculated plants. Functional classification of Cmm-responsive genes revealed that Cmm activated typical basal defense responses in the host, including induction of defense-related genes, production and scavenging of free oxygen radicals, enhanced protein turnover, and hormone synthesis. Cmm infection also induced a subset of host genes involved in ethylene biosynthesis and response. After inoculation with Cmm, Never ripe (Nr) mutant plants, impaired in ethylene perception, and transgenic plants with reduced ethylene synthesis showed significant delay in the appearance of wilt symptoms, compared with wild-type plants. The retarded wilting in Nr plants was a specific effect of ethylene insensitivity, and was not due to altered expression of defense-related genes, reduced bacterial populations, or decreased ethylene synthesis. Taken together, our results indicate that host-derived ethylene plays an important role in regulation of the tomato susceptible response to Cmm.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1797-1809
Number of pages13
JournalPlant Physiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2008


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