Phenological and phytochemical changes correlate with differential interactions of Verticillium dahliae with broccoli and cauliflower

S. M.C. Njoroge, G. E. Vallad, S. Y. Park, S. Kang, S. T. Koike, M. Bolda, P. Burman, W. Polonik, K. V. Subbarao

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26 Scopus citations


Cauliflower (Brassica oleracea var. botrytis subvar. cauliflora) is susceptible to wilt caused by Verticillium dahliae but broccoli (B. oleracea var. italica subvar. cyamosa) is not. Infection of broccoli and cauliflower by a green fluorescent protein-expressing isolate of V. dahliae was examined using epifluorescence and confocal laser-scanning microscopy to follow infection and colonization in relation to plant phenology. Plant glucosinolate, phenolic, and lignin contents were also assayed at 0, 4, 14, and 28 days postinoculation. V. dahliae consistently infected and colonized the vascular tissues of all cauliflower plants regardless of age at inoculation, with the pathogen ultimately appearing in the developing seed; however, colonization decreased with plant age. In broccoli, V. dahliae infected and colonized root and stem xylem tissues of plants inoculated at 1, 2, or 3 weeks postemergence. However, V. dahliae colonized only the root xylem and the epidermal and cortical tissues of broccoli plants inoculated at 4, 5, and 6 weeks postemergence. The frequency of reisolation of V. dahliae from the stems (4 to 22%) and roots (10 to 40%) of mature broccoli plants was lower than for cauliflower stems (25 to 64%) and roots (31 to 71%). The mean level of aliphatic glucosinolates in broccoli roots was 6.18 times higher than in the shoots and did not vary with age, whereas it was 3.65 times higher in cauliflower shoots than in the roots and there was a proportional increase with age. Indole glucosinolate content was identical in both cauliflower and broccoli, and both indole and aromatic glucosinolates did not vary with plant age in either crop. Qualitative differences in characterized glucosinolates were observed between broccoli and cauliflower but no differences were observed between inoculated and noninoculated plants for either broccoli or cauliflower. However, the phenolic and lignin contents were significantly higher in broccoli following inoculation than in noninoculated broccoli or inoculated cauliflower plants. The increased resistance of broccoli to V. dahliae infection was related to the increase in phenolic and lignin contents. Significant differential accumulation of glucosinolates associated with plant phenology may also contribute to the resistant and susceptible reactions of broccoli and cauliflower, respectively, against V. dahliae.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)523-534
Number of pages12
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Plant Science


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