The compatible interaction between Erysiphe necator and Vitis vinifera induces significant alterations in the host transcriptome, affecting essentially those genes involved in signalling and secondary metabolite biosynthetic pathways. The precise transcriptomic changes vary from the early events to later stages of infection. In the present work, suppressive subtraction hybridization (SSH) was used to identify several differentially expressed transcripts in symptomatic and asymptomatic leaves from powdery mildew infected grapevines following a long term interaction. The detected transcripts show little or no correlation with similar expression studies concerning the early stages of infection which suggests distinct host responses occur before and after the infection is established. The transcription level of thirteen genes was assessed through qRT-PCR using appropriately selected and validated normalization genes. With one exception, all these genes underwent moderate levels of differential transcription, with log(2)-fold change values ranging from -2.65 to 4.36. The exception, a dirigent-like (DIR) protein, was upregulated over 180 fold in symptomatic leaves, suggesting an important role for stereochemical selectivity in the compatible interaction E. necator-V vinifera. DIR copy number was determined in the genome of three grapevine cultivars exhibiting high (Carignan), moderate (Fernao Fires) and low (Touriga Nacional) sensitivity to E. necator. It was found to be a two-copy gene in all cultivars analyzed. Further analysis involving DIR metabolic neighbourhood transcripts was performed. The possible physiological significance of the detected DIR upregulation is discussed. (C) 2013 Elsevier Masson SAS. All rights reserved.