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Activity of phenylalanine ammonia-lyase, peroxidase and polyphenol oxidase in roots of banana (Musa acuminata AAA, cvs Grande Naine and Yangambi km5) before and after infection with Radopholus similis

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Phenylpropanoids – phenolic compounds – take part in the wound and defence responses of plants and are frequently correlated with resistance. Enzymes directly or indirectly functional in the phenylpropanoid pathway are induced in plants in response to wounding and infection by pathogens, including sedentary endoparasitic nematodes. The activity of three of these enzymes, phenylalanine ammonia-lyase (PAL), peroxidase (PO) and polyphenol oxidase (PPO), was analysed in banana roots before and 1, 3 and 7 days after inoculation with the burrowing nematode Radopholus similis and in comparison with mechanically wounded roots. Constitutive activities of PAL, PO and PPO were lower in the resistant cv. Yangambi km5 (Musa acuminata AAA) than in the susceptible cv. Grande Naine (Musa acuminata AAA). During the experiment, levels increased to those of cv. Grande Naine, but only for R. similis-inoculated roots of cv. Yangambi km5 enzyme activities at 3 and 7 days after the onset of the experiment were values significantly higher than constitutive ones. At 7 days after the treatments, PO activity was significantly higher in wounded roots of cv. Grande Naine than in control and nematode-inoculated roots. The level of PAL activity in nematode-treated roots of cv. Yangambi km5 at 7 days after inoculation was 2.3-fold higher than control and wounded roots and up to six-fold higher than cv. Grande Naine roots. We concluded that PAL was induced in R. similis-inoculated roots of the resistant cultivar only and that this response was different from wound induction. For PO and PPO we concluded that levels in the resistant cultivar increased to those of the susceptible cultivar as a response to general stress in the plants during the experiment. Nevertheless, final levels of PO and PPO activity in R. similis-inoculated roots of the resistant cultivar were significantly higher than constitutive ones.

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