Development of biological control for plant diseases is accepted as a durable and environmentally friendly alternative for agrochemicals. Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF), which form symbiotic associations with root systems of most agricultural, horticultural and hardwood crop species, have been suggested as widespread potential bioprotective agents. In the present study the ability of two AMF (Glomus mosseae and Glomus intraradices) to induce local or systemic resistance to Phytophthora parasitica in tomato roots have been compared using a split root experimental system. Glomus mosseae was effective in reducing disease symptoms produced by P. parasitica infection, and evidence points to a combination of local and systemic mechanisms being responsible for this bioprotector effect. The biochemical analysis of different plant defence-related enzymes showed a local induction of mycorrhiza-related new isoforms of the hydrolytic enzymes chitinase, chitosanase and beta-1,3-glucanase, as well as superoxide dismutase, an enzyme which is involved in cell protection against oxidative stress. Systemic alterations of the activity of some of the constitutive isoforms were also observed in non-mycorrhizal roots of mycorrhizal plants. Studies on the lytic activity against Phytophthora cell wall of root protein extracts also corroborated a systemic effect of mycorrhizal symbiosis on tomato resistance to Phytophthora.
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