Sweet immunity in tobacco: Sugar priming against Botrytis cinerea infection

Maxime Versluys
De mogelijkheden voor zoete priming als middel voor verhoogde ziekteresistentie in planten werd getest. Enkele suikers, waaronder glucose en inulin-type fructanen bleken zeer effectief te zijn.

Zoete immuniteit: Verhoogde resistentie tegen schimmelinfectie in tabak

Vanuit het oogpunt van duurzame en ecologisch verantwoorde landbouw wordt wereldwijd koortsachtig gezocht naar alternatieven voor pesticiden. Deze zijn namelijk vaak schadelijk, zowel voor de menselijke gezondheid als voor het ecosysteem en de omgeving. Wetgeving limiteert ook sterk de bewegingsvrijheid voor gebruik van pesticiden en correct pesticide management ontbreekt in vele ontwikkelingslanden. Toch wordt het gebruik ervan gezien als een noodzaak om de voedselproductie op peil te houden. Gedurende de laatste decennia is onze populatie piramidaal toegenomen. Bovendien zijn ondervoeding en honger fenomenen die wereldwijd frequent voorkomen.

Hoe kunnen we de voedselopbrengst in de landbouw laten toenemen? Het is belangrijk om in te zien dat vele gewassen die geteeld worden niet hun maximaal potentiële opbrengst kennen. De invloed van verscheidene omgevingsfactoren maakt dat de plant zich in een toestand van stress bevindt. Om hiermee te kunnen omgaan zal de groei worden onderdrukt. Biotische stress wordt vaak veroorzaakt door herbivore insecten en fytopathogenen van bacteriële of fungale oorsprong. Planten bezitten een aangeboren immuunsysteem dat in vele opzichten sterk gelijkt op deze bij dieren. In vele gewassen heeft langdurige selectieve teelt er echter toe geleid dat de plant minder resistentie kan bieden tegen deze biotische stressoren. Selectie voor zogenaamde ‘soft growth’ karakteristieken verbeterde eigenschappen als smaak, textuur en nutritionele waarde, maar dit ten koste van fysische verdedigingsmechanismen en antimicrobiële stoffen.

Hoewel genetisch gemodificeerde gewassen de oplossing kunnen bieden, is dit onderwerp nog steeds onderhevig aan zware debatvoering. Een recente oplossing is het ‘primen’ van het immuunsysteem van de plant door toediening van natuurlijk beschikbare stoffen. Deze priming agentia induceren niet onmiddellijk de verdedigingsresponsen van de plant, maar stellen deze in staat sneller te kunnen reageren bij een toekomstige pathogene aanval. Bijgevolg is deze techniek energetisch weinig kostelijk voor de plant, waardoor de groei niet wordt belemmerd. Het belang van endogene suikers als signaalmoleculen in deze context werd reeds aangetoond. Het gegeven van ‘zoete immuniteit’ bespreekt de rol van suikermoleculen in de verdediging van de plant, waarbij ze een energiebron kunnen leveren voor de inductie van defensiemechanismen, maar ook zelf een signalerende functie kunnen verzorgen. Enzymen die betrokken zijn in het suikermetabolisme, zoals de sucrose-degraderende invertases, kunnen het immuunsysteem tevens beïnvloeden. ‘Zoete priming’ beschrijft de techniek waarbij exogene suikers op de plant worden aangebracht om het immuunsysteem te boosten.

In dit onderzoek werd de  zoete priming techniek toegepast op tabak (Nicotiana tabacum), een modelorganisme in het veld van fytopathologie. Priming werd uitgevoerd op volgroeide bladeren. Enkele dagen na priming werden deze geïnoculeerd met sporen van de schimmel Botrytis cinerea, een fytopathogeen die een groot gamma aan plantensoorten kan infecteren, waaronder verscheidene gewassen. Ziekteverschijnselen werden geobserveerd 6 dagen na infectie. Bovendien werden fysiologische metingen uitgevoerd op bladeren na priming (pre-infectie stadium). Bladconcentratie aan glucose, fructose en sucrose werd gemeten, alsook het zetmeelgehalte. Enzymatische activiteit van enkele invertases werd nagegaan, in het bijzonder vacuolair- en celwand invertase. Aan de hand van voorgaand onderzoek werden enkele veelbelovende suikers uitgekozen voor priming. Glucose, fructose en allose (een weinig voorkomende variant van glucose) werden toegepast. Water priming was steeds de negatieve controle. Sorbitol, een suiker-alcohol, werd geïncludeerd als osmotische controle. Voor de positieve controle behandeling werd geopteerd voor OGs (oligalacturonides), het afbraakproduct van pectine aanwezig in de celwand van de plant. Het is reeds enige tijd duidelijk dat deze OGs worden herkend door een receptor, waarna een inductie van het immuunsysteem volgt.

Meerdere priming en infectie experimenten werden uitgevoerd, waarna bleek dat allose en fructose weinig effect hadden in de verbetering van het immuunsysteem. Glucose priming daarentegen verhoogde resistentie tegen Botrytis infectie significant. Deze hogere resistentie ging meestal samen met een hogere concentratie aan hexosen (glucose en fructose) in het blad. Eveneens werd vaak een verhoogde celwand invertase activiteit gemeten na glucose priming. De resultaten van zetmeelinhoud waren weinig verhelderend, alhoewel bleek dat het zetmeelgehalte lager lag na priming ten opzichte van de waterbehandeling.

Een tweede focuspunt in dit onderzoek was het gebruik van fructanen als priming agens. Fructanen zijn polymere suikermoleculen, opgebouwd uit een sucrose eenheid verlengd met verscheidene fructose eenheden. Slechts 15% van alle bloemplanten maakt fructanen aan, en deze worden opgeslagen in de vacuole van de cel. Afhankelijk van het type verbinding tussen deze bouwstenen wordt onderscheid gemaakt tussen inulines en levanen.  De prebiotische functie van fructanen in ons dieet is reeds aangetoond. Hier werd geprimed met BFO (fructooligosacchariden van Arctium lappa). Deze fructanen zijn van het inulin-type. Recent onderzoek in andere pathosystemen heeft reeds aangetoond dat BFO priming het immuunsysteem van de plant bevordert. Uit onze resultaten blijkt dat deze fructanen tevens werken in het tabak-Botrytis pathosysteem. Voornamelijk in het laatste experiment werd een significant hogere resistentie waargenomen. Een belangrijk gegeven hierbij is dat tabak van nature geen fructanen bevat. Hoewel fructanen een signalerende functie blijken te hebben, is een receptor tot nog toe niet gekend.

Wij stellen voor dat de apoplastische omgeving, de ruimte tussen plantencellen, een belangrijke rol speelt tijdens priming. Toediening van suikers kan de osmotische status van de apoplast drastisch veranderen. Hierdoor kan mogelijk de balans van fysiologische processen wijzigen, hetgeen een inductie, ofwel een suppressie van het immuunsysteem tot gevolg zou kunnen hebben. We concluderen hier dat sommige suikers een immunostimulerend  effect kunnen hebben. Zoete priming kan een alternatief bieden om gewasopbrengst te verhogen. Er moet echter meer onderzoek gebeuren om na te gaan of applicatieve doeleinden haalbaar zijn. Bovendien moet theoretisch gericht onderzoek verricht worden om onderliggende mechanismen van zoete priming te ontrafelen.

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Universiteit of Hogeschool
Master in de Biologie
Publicatiejaar
2016
Promotor(en)
Wim Van den Ende
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