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Open Access Open Badges Research article

Novel aspects of grapevine response to phytoplasma infection investigated by a proteomic and phospho-proteomic approach with data integration into functional networks

Paolo Margaria, Simona Abbà and Sabrina Palmano*

Author affiliations

Istituto di Virologia Vegetale, CNR, Strada delle Cacce 73, 10135, Torino, Italy

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Citation and License

BMC Genomics 2013, 14:38  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-14-38

Published: 17 January 2013



Translational and post-translational protein modifications play a key role in the response of plants to pathogen infection. Among the latter, phosphorylation is critical in modulating protein structure, localization and interaction with other partners. In this work, we used a multiplex staining approach with 2D gels to study quantitative changes in the proteome and phosphoproteome of Flavescence dorée-affected and recovered ‘Barbera’ grapevines, compared to healthy plants.


We identified 48 proteins that differentially changed in abundance, phosphorylation, or both in response to Flavescence dorée phytoplasma infection. Most of them did not show any significant difference in recovered plants, which, by contrast, were characterized by changes in abundance, phosphorylation, or both for 17 proteins not detected in infected plants. Some enzymes involved in the antioxidant response that were up-regulated in infected plants, such as isocitrate dehydrogenase and glutathione S-transferase, returned to healthy-state levels in recovered plants. Others belonging to the same functional category were even down-regulated in recovered plants (oxidoreductase GLYR1 and ascorbate peroxidase). Our proteomic approach thus agreed with previously published biochemical and RT-qPCR data which reported down-regulation of scavenging enzymes and accumulation of H2O2 in recovered plants, possibly suggesting a role for this molecule in remission from infection. Fifteen differentially phosphorylated proteins (| ratio | > 2, p < 0.05) were identified in infected compared to healthy plants, including proteins involved in photosynthesis, response to stress and the antioxidant system. Many were not differentially phosphorylated in recovered compared to healthy plants, pointing to their specific role in responding to infection, followed by a return to a steady-state phosphorylation level after remission of symptoms. Gene ontology (GO) enrichment and statistical analysis showed that the general main category “response to stimulus” was over-represented in both infected and recovered plants but, in the latter, the specific child category “response to biotic stimulus” was no longer found, suggesting a return to steady-state levels for those proteins specifically required for defence against pathogens.


Proteomic data were integrated into biological networks and their interactions were represented through a hypothetical model, showing the effects of protein modulation on primary metabolic ways and related secondary pathways. By following a multiplex-staining approach, we obtained new data on grapevine proteome pathways that specifically change at the phosphorylation level during phytoplasma infection and following recovery, focusing for the first time on phosphoproteome changes during pathogen infection in this host.

Vitis vinifera; Flavescence dorée; Recovery; 2-DE