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This article in CS

  1. Vol. 40 No. 3, p. 713-716
    Received: July 19, 1999

    * Corresponding author(s): robertscr@missouri.edu
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Chitinase Activity in Tall Fescue Seedlings as Affected by Cultivar, Seedling Development, and Ethephon

  1. S.M. Mareka,
  2. C.A. Roberts *b,
  3. A.L. Karrc and
  4. D.A. Sleperb
  1. a Dep. of Plant Pathology, Univ. of California, Davis, CA 95616 USA
    b Dep. of Agronomy, Univ. of Missouri, Columbia, MO 65211 USA
    c Dep. of Plant Pathology, Univ. of Missouri, Columbia, MO 65211 USA


Recent reports indicate that tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea Schreb.) may be selected for increased disease resistance with the use of a marker such as chitinase, a defense protein associated with disease resistance in tall fescue. The objective of this study was to determine if chitinase activity in tall fescue cultivars differs consistently across seedling stage, and to determine if chitinase activity could be increased with ethephon ([2-chloroethyl]phosphonic acid), a growth regulator used as a chemical elicitor. Ten cultivars of tall fescue were planted in a greenhouse, and seedlings were harvested at 14, 28, and 42 d after germination. Seedlings were treated with and without ethephon 3 d prior to each harvest. Foliage was analyzed for total and specific chitinase activity. Both total and specific chitinase activity differed (P < 0.01) among cultivars and seedling stages. Highest ranking cultivars expressed at least 16% more total chitinase activity and 18% more specific activity than the lowest ranking cultivars. Though chitinase activity changed drastically over seedling development, there were no cultivar × seedling stage interactions (P < 0.01) for total or specific activity. Ethephon increased total and specific activity only at the 0.06 and 0.07 probability level and was far less effective than biological elicitors used to increase chitinase in previous studies. We concluded that chitinase could serve as a consistent marker among tall fescue cultivars across seedling stages, but a more effective chemical elicitor would be desirable to increase chitinase activity.

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