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Xylem defense wood of Norway spruce compromised by the pathogenic white-rot fungus Heterobasidion parviporum shows a prolonged period of selective decay

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Planta 2012; Volume 236. p. 1125–1133. 2012

Nagy, Nina Elisabeth; Ballance, Simon; Kvaalen, Harald; Fossdal, Carl Gunnar; Solheim, Halvor; Hietala, Ari

Heterobasidion parviporum, a common pathogenic white-rot fungus in managed Norway spruce forests in northern and central Europe, causes extensive decay columns within stem heartwood of the host tree. Infected trees combat the lateral spread of decay by bordering the heartwood with a fungistatic reaction zone characterized by elevated pH and phenol content. To examine the mode of fungal feeding in the reaction zone of mature Norway spruce trees naturally infected by H. parviporum, we conducted spatial proWling of pectin and hemicellulose composition, and established transcript levels of candidate fungal genes encoding enzymes involved in degradation of the diVerent cell wall components of wood. Colonized inner heartwood showed pectin and hemicellulose concentrations similar to those of healthy heartwood, whereas the carbohydrate proWles of compromised reaction zone, irrespective of the age of fungal activity in the tissue, indicated selective fungal utilization of galacturonic acid, arabinose, xylose and mannose. These data show that the rate of wood decay in the reaction zone is slow. While the up-regulation of genes encoding pectinases and hemicellulases preceded that of the endoglucanase gene during an early phase of fungal interaction with xylem defense, the manganese peroxidase gene showed similar transcript levels during diVerent phases of wood colonization. It seems plausible that the reaction zone components of Norway spruce interfere with both lignin degradation and the associated co-hydrolysis of hemicelluloses and pectin, resulting in a prolonged phase of selective decay.

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