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Open Access Research article

Defence reactions in the apoplastic proteome of oilseed rape (Brassica napus var. napus) attenuate Verticillium longisporum growth but not disease symptoms

Saskia Floerl1, Christine Druebert1, Andrzej Majcherczyk2, Petr Karlovsky3, Ursula Kües2 and Andrea Polle1*

Author Affiliations

1 Büsgen-Institut, Abteilung: Forstbotanik and Baumphysiologie, Büsgenweg 2, 37077 Göttingen, Germany

2 Büsgen-Institut, Abteilung: Molekulare Holzbiotechnologie und technische Mykologie, Büsgenweg 2, 37077 Göttingen, Germany

3 Department für Nutzpflanzenwissenschaften, Abteilung: Molekulare Phytopathologie und Mykotoxinforschung, Grisebachstr. 6, 37077 Göttingen, Germany

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BMC Plant Biology 2008, 8:129  doi:10.1186/1471-2229-8-129

Published: 18 December 2008



Verticillium longisporum is one of the most important pathogens of Brassicaceae that remains strictly in the xylem during most stages of its development. It has been suggested that disease symptoms are associated with clogging of xylem vessels. The aim of our study was to investigate extracellular defence reactions induced by V. longisporum in the xylem sap and leaf apoplast of Brassica napus var. napus in relation to the development of disease symptoms, photosynthesis and nutrient status.


V. longisporum (strain VL43) did not overcome the hypocotyl barrier until 3 weeks after infection although the plants showed massive stunting of the stem and mild leaf chlorosis. During this initial infection phase photosynthetic carbon assimilation, transpiration rate and nutrient elements in leaves were not affected in VL43-infected compared to non-infected plants. Proteome analysis of the leaf apoplast revealed 170 spots after 2-D-protein separation, of which 12 were significantly enhanced in response to VL43-infection. LS-MS/MS analysis and data base searches revealed matches of VL43-responsive proteins to an endochitinase, a peroxidase, a PR-4 protein and a β-1,3-glucanase. In xylem sap three up-regulated proteins were found of which two were identified as PR-4 and β-1,3-glucanase. Xylem sap of infected plants inhibited the growth of V. longisporum.


V. longisporum infection did not result in drought stress or nutrient limitations. Stunting and mild chlorosis were, therefore, not consequences of insufficient water and nutrient supply due to VL43-caused xylem obstruction. A distinct array of extracellular PR-proteins was activated that might have limited Verticillium spreading above the hypocotyl. In silico analysis suggested that ethylene was involved in up-regulating VL43-responsive proteins.