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Dr Frank Takken and Dr Di Xiaotang from the Molecular Plant Pathology group recently published in the homonymously named journal on the roles of phytohormones in plant defence upon pathogen attack. They show that the pathways involved are distinct for different plant species that are infected by the same fungus.

Fusarium wilt disease in tomato plants
Tomato plant with wilt disease

It has been known for a long time that phytohormones play key roles in plant defence. The role of these hormones in defence against Fusarium wilt disease has been extensively studied in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana. Fusarium causes infection in many crops, but in none of them the role of these hormones have been systematically investigated.


In their paper, the researchers chose to study the involvement of these hormones in tomato. They observed distinct and synergistic roles for the phytohormones in the susceptibility to disease development. Comparison with Arabidopsis revealed species-specific differences in the role of the hormones in host defence, implying that different fungal strains may adopt different strategies to cause disease. These insights are relevant, as they show that crops rely on different mechanisms to combat wilt diseases.

Publication details

Di, X., Gomila, J., and Takken, F.L.W. (2017). Involvement of salicylic acid, ethylene and jasmonic acid signalling pathways in the susceptibility of tomato to Fusarium oxysporum. Mol Plant Pathol. DOI: 10.1111/mpp.12559