Biosynthesis of Salicylic Acid in Plants

Plant Signal Behav. 2009 Jun;4(6):493-6. doi: 10.4161/psb.4.6.8392. Epub 2009 Jun 12.


Salicylic acid (SA) is an important signal molecule in plants. Two pathways of SA biosynthesis have been proposed in plants. Biochemical studies using isotope feeding have suggested that plants synthesize SA from cinnamate produced by the activity of phenylalanine ammonia lyase (PAL). Silencing of PAL genes in tobacco or chemical inhibition of PAL activity in Arabidopsis, cucumber and potato reduces pathogen-induced SA accumulation. Genetic studies, on the other hand, indicate that the bulk of SA is produced from isochorismate. In bacteria, SA is synthesized from chorismate through two reactions catalyzed by isochorismate synthase (ICS) and isochorismate pyruvate lyase (IPL). Arabidopsis contains two ICS genes but has no gene encoding proteins similar to the bacterial IPL. Thus, how SA is synthesized in plants is not fully elucidated. Two recently identified Arabidopsis genes, PBS3 and EPS1, are important for pathogen-induced SA accumulation. PBS3 encodes a member of the acyl-adenylate/thioester-forming enzyme family and EPS1 encodes a member of the BAHD acyltransferase superfamily. PBS3 and EPS1 may be directly involved in the synthesis of an important precursor or regulatory molecule for SA biosynthesis. The pathways and regulation of SA biosynthesis in plants may be more complicated than previously thought.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Arabidopsis / enzymology
  • Arabidopsis / genetics*
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / genetics
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / metabolism
  • Chorismic Acid / metabolism
  • Cinnamates / metabolism
  • Gene Silencing
  • Genes, Plant
  • Intramolecular Transferases / metabolism
  • Phenylalanine Ammonia-Lyase / metabolism
  • Plants / genetics
  • Plants / metabolism*
  • Salicylic Acid / metabolism*


  • Arabidopsis Proteins
  • Cinnamates
  • PBS3 protein, Arabidopsis
  • isochorismic acid
  • Phenylalanine Ammonia-Lyase
  • Intramolecular Transferases
  • isochorismate synthase
  • Chorismic Acid
  • Salicylic Acid