Oligosaccharides successfully thwart hijacking of the salicylic acid pathway by Phytophthora infestans in potato leaves

G. van Aubel, S. Serderidis, J. Ivens, A. Clinckemaillie, A. Legrève, B. Hause, P. Van Cutsem

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Potato growing is severely threatened by the late blight agent Phytophthora infestans, which is usually controlled by massive amounts of fungicides. While variety resistance is often bypassed by the pathogen, the plant innate immunity opens the way to new biological plant protection tools, e.g. the COS-OGA elicitor. This oligosaccharide composition mimics the interaction between plants and fungal pathogens as it combines chitosan oligomers (COS) with pectin-derived oligogalacturonides (OGA). Two different COS-OGA elicitors were evaluated against potato late blight: FytoSave, mainly efficient against powdery mildews, and FytoSol, a new composition still under development. In addition, a comparative study of plant defence induction was performed, focusing on the effect of repeated sprayings as well as on the stimulation of salicylic acid (SA), jasmonic acid and ethylene-related pathways during the biotrophic and necrotrophic growth stages of the pathogen. The FytoSave elicitor strongly increased the SA content but failed to induce sufficient protection against late blight, while FytoSol maintained or even decreased the free SA content in the presence of P. infestans and was completely efficient. Surprisingly, the necrotrophic development of P. infestans occurred along with a strong leaf accumulation of free SA and SA-related transcripts. This may represent an attempt by P. infestans to divert plant defences for its own benefit. Preventive sprayings with FytoSol but not FytoSave completely impeded this hijacking. FytoSol seemed to keep the SA pathway under control, thereby preventing its diversion by P. infestans.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1901-1911
Number of pages11
JournalPlant Pathology
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2018


  • oligosaccharides
  • plant innate immunity
  • potato late blight
  • salicylic acid
  • Solanum tuberosum


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