Inducing host plant-based systemic resistance is one of the modes of action involved in tri-trophic interactions between host plants, pests and mutualistic microorganisms. Two different types of systemic resistance – systemic acquired resistance (SAR) and induced systemic resistance (ISR) – were found to be functional against pathogens and plant-parasitic nematodes. In this study, the ability of Trichoderma harzianum isolate T10 and insecticidal active neem powder (NP) to induce systemic resistance in tomato against the root-knot nematode Meloidogyne javanica was compared with salicylic acid (SA) and jasmonic acid (JA) as standard elicitors for SAR and ISR, respectively. Results showed that, when the biotic and abiotic elicitors were applied to the inducer side of a split root plant system, a significant reduction in nematode infection was observed on the responder side. Physiological changes in the tomato plant due to the induction of SAR or ISA by these biotic and abiotic elicitors were further investigated using HPLC. Results demonstrated that T10 significantly increased the accumulation of different metabolites in the shoot of the tomato over the NP, JA and SA elicitors. Furthermore, the results demonstrated that several metabolic, physical and biochemical changes occurred in the shoots of the treated plants with both the biotic and abiotic elicitors. The percentage of membrane leakage (Ml) at nematode-infected tomato roots was significantly high, but the differences in percentage leakage were not significant in other treatments compared to the non-infested control. The best results were recorded with SA, T10 and NP, which gave the lowest MI% compared to the infested plants.
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