Pseudomonas syringae elicits emission of the terpenoid (E,E)-4,8,12-trimethyl-1,3,7,11-tridecatetraene in Arabidopsis leaves via jasmonate signaling and expression of the terpene synthase TPS4

Mol Plant Microbe Interact. 2008 Nov;21(11):1482-97. doi: 10.1094/MPMI-21-11-1482.


Volatile, low-molecular weight terpenoids have been implicated in plant defenses, but their direct role in resistance against microbial pathogens is not clearly defined. We have examined a possible role of terpenoid metabolism in the induced defense of Arabidopsis thaliana plants against leaf infection with the bacterial pathogen Pseudomonas syringae. Inoculation of plants with virulent or avirulent P. syringae strains induces the emission of the terpenoids (E,E)-4,8,12-trimethyl-1,3,7,11-tridecatetraene (TMTT), beta-ionone and alpha-farnesene. While the most abundant volatile, the C16-homoterpene TMTT, is produced relatively early in compatible and incompatible interactions, emission of both beta-ionone and alpha-farnesene only increases in later stages of the compatible interaction. Pathogen-induced synthesis of TMTT is controlled through jasmonic acid (JA)-dependent signaling but is independent of a functional salicylic acid (SA) pathway. We have identified Arabidopsis T-DNA insertion lines with defects in the terpene synthase gene TPS4, which is expressed in response to P. syringae inoculation. The tps4 knockout mutant completely lacks induced emission of TMTT but is capable of beta-ionone and alpha-farnesene production, demonstrating that TPS4 is specifically involved in TMTT formation. The tps4 plants display at least wild type-like resistance against P. syringae, indicating that TMTT per se does not protect against the bacterial pathogen in Arabidopsis leaves. Similarly, the ability to mount SA-dependent defenses and systemic acquired resistance (SAR) is barely affected in tps4, which excludes a signaling function of TMTT during SAR. Besides P. syringae challenge, intoxication of Arabidopsis leaves with copper sulfate, a treatment that strongly activates JA biosynthesis, triggers production of TMTT, beta-ionone, and alpha-farnesene. Taken together, our data suggest that induced TMTT production in Arabidopsis is a by-product of activated JA signaling, rather than an effective defense response that contributes to resistance against P. syringae.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alkyl and Aryl Transferases / genetics
  • Alkyl and Aryl Transferases / metabolism*
  • Arabidopsis / genetics
  • Arabidopsis / metabolism*
  • Arabidopsis / microbiology
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / genetics
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / metabolism
  • Cyclopentanes / metabolism*
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions
  • Oxylipins / metabolism*
  • Pseudomonas syringae / physiology*
  • Signal Transduction / genetics
  • Signal Transduction / physiology
  • Terpenes / chemistry
  • Terpenes / metabolism*


  • Arabidopsis Proteins
  • Cyclopentanes
  • Oxylipins
  • Terpenes
  • jasmonic acid
  • Alkyl and Aryl Transferases
  • terpene synthase