Aim: The aim of the present investigation was to determine whether methyl jasmonate and ethylene could synergistically induce grapevine foliar cuttings (Vitis vinifera) defense mechanisms and enhance resistance to Erysiphe necator.
Methods and results: We cotreated grapevine foliar cuttings (Cabernet- Sauvignon) with ethylene-releasing ethephon in association with methyl jasmonate. However, this cotreatment did not improve resistance to powdery mildew induced by MeJA or ethephon, alone. Quantitative PCR analysis performed on grape cell suspensions showed that the association ethephon/MeJA triggered an enhancement of phytoalexin biosynthesis by synergistically inducing PAL and STS genes. This gene expression was correlated with accumulation of stilbenes (antimicrobial compounds), assessed by HPLC analysis. However, ethephon seemed to inhibit MeJA-dependent induction of PR protein gene expression mainly for the first eighteen hours.
Significance and impact of study: Since methyl jasmonate and ethephon can separately enhance grapevine resistance to Erysiphe necator, it was interesting to study the effect of the association of the two molecules on it. Although we observed a synergistic effect on phytoalexin production, no improved resistance against the fungus was obtained. These results can be exploited for the development of new pest control strategies in vineyard.
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