Frontiers in Plant Science (2016-09-01)

Noninvasive presymptomatic detection of Cercospora beticola infection and identification of early metabolic responses in sugar beet

  • Hans-Peter Mock,
  • Nadja Arens,
  • Andreas Backhaus,
  • Stefanie Döll,
  • Sandra Fischer,
  • Udo Seiffert

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 7


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Cercospora beticola is an economically significant fungal pathogen of sugar beet, and is the causative pathogen of Cercospora leaf spot. Selected host genotypes with contrasting degree of susceptibility to the disease have been exploited to characterize the patterns of metabolite responses to fungal infection, and to devise a pre-symptomatic, non-invasive method of detecting the presence of the pathogen. Sugar beet genotypes were analyzed for metabolite profiles and hyperspectral signatures. Correlation of data matrices from both approaches facilitated identification of candidates for metabolic markers. Hyperspectral imaging was highly predictive with a classification accuracy of 98.5-99.9 % in detecting C. beticola. Metabolite analysis revealed metabolites altered by the host as part of a successful defence response: these were L-DOPA, 12-hydroxyjasmonic acid 12-O-β-D-glucoside, pantothenic acid and 5-O-feruloylquinic acid. The accumulation of glucosylvitexin in the resistant cultivar suggests it acts as a constitutively-produced protectant. The study establishes a proof-of-concept for an unbiased, presymptomatic and non-invasive detection system for the presence of C. beticola. The test needs to be validated with a larger set of genotypes, to be scalable to the level of a crop improvement program, aiming to speed up the selection for resistant cultivars of sugar beet. Untargeted metabolic profiling is a valuable tool to identify metabolites which correlate with hyperspectral data.