Pathogen‐induced pH changes regulate the growth‐defense balance in plants

Soil-​borne vascular pathogens, like Fusarium oxysporum, attack virtually all crops and many natural ecosystems on Earth. A recent “EMBO Journal” manuscript by the Sánchez-​Rodríguez group sheds light on the influence of pH on plant growth-​defence balance. 

Soil-​borne fungi devastate natural and agronomic ecosystems by dramatically affecting plant growth. An international work led by the SPSW member Sánchez-​Rodríguez’s lab uncovered how pathogen interaction immediately changes the growth-​defense balance of plants, using F. oxysporum as a fungal model.

Christopher Kesten et al. showed that once a fungal hypha touches a root, distinctive proton pump activation leads to pH changes at the plant plasma membrane interface and to immediate plant growth retardation. This was accompanied by an almost instant removal of the cellulose synthase machinery, and consequently reduction of cellulose synthesis. Proton pump activation and cellulose synthesis was molecularly linked via the Companion of Cellulose Synthase proteins. The work further indicates that pH modulation influences cellulose structure. This study extends the current view of plant adaptation to the environment and opens up potential biotechnological and agricultural applications.

ETH Zurich News

Reference publication
Christopher Kesten, Francisco M Gámez‐Arjona, Alexandra Menna, Stefan Scholl, Susanne Dora, Apolonio Ignacio Huerta, Hsin‐Yao Huang, Nico Tintor, Toshinori Kinoshita, Martijn Rep, Melanie Krebs, Karin Schumacher, Clara Sánchez‐Rodríguez
Pathogen‐induced pH changes regulate the growth‐defense balance in plants
EMBO J (2019)38:e101822