Root exudation of phloridzin by apple seedlings (<em>Malus x domestica</em> Borkh.) with symptoms of apple replant disease


  • A. Hofmann
  • L. Wittenmayer
  • G. Arnold
  • A. Schieber
  • W. Merbach


This study investigates the occurrence of the flavonoid phloridzin (phloretin-2'-O-β-D-glucoside) in root exudates of apple seedlings showing growth reduction related to apple replant disease (ARD). The disease is most likely caused by a complex of soil-borne fungi and bacteria, but the etiology remains to be elucidated. Information on specific exudation processes in the rhizosphere of apple seedlings could contribute to our understanding of the conditions triggering ARD development.
To procure ARD symptoms, apple seedlings (Malus x domestica Borkh.) were grown in ARD-conductive soil. Root exudates were collected by submerging the roots in a solution of 0.05 mM CaCl2 for a period of 4 h. The fraction of phenolic root exudates was analyzed using HPLC/DAD (high performance liquid chromatography/diode array detector).
Results suggest that (i) phloridzin is a constant root exudate of apple seedlings. It was the most abundant phenol in the collected exudates from replant-diseased as well as healthy seedlings. (ii) Phloridzin exudation, related to root dry matter, was the most intensive at the onset of ARD symptom development and lower during the period when symptoms were most severe or outgrown. (iii) In comparison to healthy seedlings, the phloridzin exudation of apple replantdiseased seedlings was significantly higher only at the onset of ARD symptom development, suggesting a response of the plants to infection.
The finding of phloridzin in the root exudates of Malus x domestica Borkh. might have consequences for research on the etiology of ARD. Specialized pathogenic microorganisms could be attracted by this distinct compound. Since it is very characteristic of apple plants, phloridzin might be the compound that ARD-causing microorganisms utilize to recognize their host. For practical applications, phloridzin root exudation could therefore be a parameter in evaluating ARD-susceptibility of different rootstocks.