Inbreeding alters activities of the stress-related enzymes chitinases and β-1,3-glucanases.
Leimu R., Kloss L., Fischer M.
Pathogenesis-related proteins, chitinases (CHT) and β-1,3-glucanases (GLU), are stress proteins up-regulated as response to extrinsic environmental stress in plants. It is unknown whether these PR proteins are also influenced by inbreeding, which has been suggested to constitute intrinsic genetic stress, and which is also known to affect the ability of plants to cope with environmental stress. We investigated activities of CHT and GLU in response to inbreeding in plants from 13 Ragged Robin (Lychnis flos-cuculi) populations. We also studied whether activities of these enzymes were associated with levels of herbivore damage and pathogen infection in the populations from which the plants originated. We found an increase in pathogenesis-related protein activity in inbred plants from five out of the 13 investigated populations, which suggests that these proteins may play a role in how plants respond to intrinsic genetic stress brought about by inbreeding in some populations depending on the allele frequencies of loci affecting the expression of CHT and the past levels of inbreeding. More importantly, we found that CHT activities were higher in plants from populations with higher levels of herbivore or pathogen damage, but inbreeding reduced CHT activity in these populations disrupting the increased activities of this resistance-related enzyme in populations where high resistance is beneficial. These results provide novel information on the effects of plant inbreeding on plant-enemy interactions on a biochemical level.