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Global Switches and Fine-Tuning—ABA Modulates Plant Pathogen Defense

June 2008 , Volume 21 , Number  6
Pages  709 - 719

Bob Asselbergh,1,2 David De Vleesschauwer,1 and Monica Höfte1

1Laboratory of Phytopathology, Ghent University, 9000 Gent, Belgium; 2VIB Department of Plant Systems Biology, 9052 Zwijnaarde, Belgium

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Accepted 8 February 2008.

Plants are obliged to defend themselves against a wide range of biotic and abiotic stresses. Complex regulatory signaling networks mount an appropriate defense response depending on the type of stress that is perceived. In response to abiotic stresses such as drought, cold, and salinity, the function of abscisic acid (ABA) is well documented: elevation of plant ABA levels and activation of ABA-responsive signaling result in regulation of stomatal aperture and expression of stress-responsive genes. In response to pathogens, the role of ABA is more obscure and is a research topic that has long been overlooked. This article aims to evaluate and review the reported modes of ABA action on pathogen defense and highlight recent advances in deciphering the complex role of ABA in plant--pathogen interactions. The proposed mechanisms responsible for positive or negative effects of ABA on pathogen defense are discussed, as well as the regulation of ABA signaling and in planta ABA concentrations by beneficial and pathogenic microorganisms. In addition, the fast-growing number of reports that characterize antagonistic and synergistic interactions between abiotic and biotic stress responses point to ABA as an essential component in integrating and fine-tuning abiotic and biotic stress-response signaling networks.

Additional keywords:callose, ethylene, salicylic acid.

© 2008 The American Phytopathological Society