Stimulation or inhibition: Conflicting evidence for (±)-catechin’s role as a chemical facilitator and disease protecting agent
Volume 5, Issue 3
Downloads and Tools
Pages 239 - 246http://dx.doi.org/10.4161/psb.5.3.10573
Authors: Harsh P. Bais, L Venkatachalam and Meredith L. Biedrzycki View affiliations
The occurrence of plant hormesis is poorly understood phenomenon, wherein low doses of phytotoxins unusually promote growth responses in higher plants. In contrast, negative plant-plant interactions mediated through secreted small molecular weight compounds initiate growth inhibitory responses. Studies related to (±)-catechin mediated allelopathy has transpired both novel information and generated significant controversy. Specifically, studies related to the phytotoxicity responses mediated by (±)-catechins have been seriously debated. The pronged opinion that (±)-catechin is phytotoxic versus non-phytotoxic relies more on the target plant systems and the conditions used to test phytotoxic responses. It is reported that lower than MIC dosage supplementation of (±)-catechin could promote growth responses in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana. Furthermore, it was shown that sub-MIC levels of (±)-catechin supplementation leads to elicitation of disease resistance against Pseudomonas syringae DC3000 (hereafter DC3000). Intrigued by the unique hormesis response observed, we tested whether (±)-catechin indeed promotes growth responses in A. thaliana. In our hands, we observed no growth promotion responses of (±)-catechin against A. thaliana under in vitro or in soil. We also evaluated the previously reported disease protecting properties of (±)-catechin in A. thaliana against DC3000. The systematic observations to evaluate disease protecting properties entailing colony counts, disease incidences and loss of chlorophyll studies showed no disease protecting properties of (±)-catechin. The transcriptional response for a marker pathogenesis related PR1 defense gene showed no induction post (±)-catechin supplementation. The cell death genes (ACD2 and CAD1) associated with programmed cell death revealed unchanged expression levels in plants treated with sub-MIC levels of (±)-catechin. Further, we report supplementation of sub-MIC levels of (±)-catechin negates any change in the expression of an auxin responsive gene. Our results refute the previous claims of growth and defense inducing effects of (±)-catechin, thus suggesting that a thorough reexamination is required to evaluate the hormetic effect of (±)-catechin under both controlled and natural conditions.
Received: October 22, 2009; Accepted: November 9, 2009