Eran Pichersky,2 and
Daniel F. Klessig1
1Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research, Tower Road, Ithaca, NY 14853, U.S.A.; 2Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology, University of Michigan, 830 N. University Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, U.S.A.
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Accepted 31 August 2009.
Methyl salicylate (MeSA), which is synthesized in plants from salicylic acid (SA) by methyltransferases, has roles in defense against microbial and insect pests. Most of the MeSA that accumulates after pathogen attack is synthesized by benzoic acid/SA carboxyl methyltransferase 1 (AtBSMT1). To investigate the role of AtBSMT1 in plant defense, transgenic Arabidopsis with altered AtBSMT1 function or expression were assessed for their ability to resist pathogen infection. A knockout mutant (Atbsmt1) failed to accumulate MeSA following pathogen infection; these plants also failed to accumulate SA or its glucoside in the uninoculated leaves and did not develop systemic acquired resistance (SAR). However, the Atbsmt1 mutant exhibited normal levels of effector-triggered immunity and pathogen-associated molecular pattern (PAMP)-triggered immunity to Pseudomonas syringae and Hyaloperonospora arabidopsidis. Analyses of transgenic Arabidopsis plants overexpressing AtBSMT1 revealed that they accumulate elevated levels of MeSA in pathogen-infected leaves but fail to develop SAR. Since the levels of SA and its glucoside were reduced in uninoculated systemic leaves of these plants whereas MeSA levels were elevated, AtBSMT1-mediated conversion of SA to MeSA probably compromised SAR development by suppressing SA accumulation in uninoculated leaves. PAMP-triggered immunity also was compromised in the AtBSMT1 overexpressing plants, although effector-triggered immunity was not.
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