T-phylloplanin proteins secreted to aerial surfaces of tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum) by short procumbent trichomes inhibit spore germination and blue mold disease caused by the oomycete pathogen Peronospora tabacina. Many other plants were found to contain water-washed leaf surface proteins (phylloplanins), but the functions and properties of these are not known. Here we extend earlier evidence for the antifungal activity of T-phylloplanins using a reverse genetics approach. RNA interference of the T-phylloplanin gene in tobacco ‘T.I. 1068’ resulted in loss of T-phylloplanin mRNA and protein, loss of in vitro spore germination inhibition activity, and leaf infection inhibition activity of leaf water washes from RNA interference plants, and young knockdown plants were susceptible to disease. The glycoprotein character, adaxial-leaf-surface enrichment of, and renewability of T-phylloplanins are also described. We also report that leaf water washes of sunflower (Helianthus annuus) and jimson weed (Datura metel), but not soybean (Glycine max), like that of tobacco, possess ProteinaseK- and boiling-sensitive P. tabacina spore germination and tobacco leaf infection inhibition activities. Results establish that T-phylloplaninins of tobacco are active in P. tabacina inhibition, and indicate that leaf surface proteins of certain non-Nicotiana species that are not susceptible to P. tabacina disease can inhibit germination of spores of this oomycete pathogen and inhibit tobacco leaf infection by this pathogen.

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Published in Plant Physiology, v. 144, no. 4, p. 1843-1851.

© 2007, American Society of Plant Biologists

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This work was supported by the Kentucky Tobacco Research and Development Center and the Natural Products Alliance, University of Kentucky. R.W.S. was the recipient of a Jeffrey Graduate Fellowship at the University of Kentucky and a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship in microbial biology at the University of California, Berkeley.

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The GenBank accession number of the T-phylloplanin gene is AY705384.