Indolic secondary metabolites protect Arabidopsis from the oomycete pathogen Phytophthora brassicae

Plant Signal Behav. 2010 Sep;5(9):1099-101. doi: 10.4161/psb.5.9.12410.


The model plant Arabidopsis thaliana contains a large arsenal of secondary metabolites that are not essential in development but have important ecological functions in counteracting attacks of pathogens and herbivores. Preformed secondary compounds are often referred to as phytoanticipins and metabolites, that are synthesized de novo in response to biotic stress are known as phytoalexins. Camalexin is the typical phytoalexin of Arabidopsis. It has antimicrobial activity towards some pathogens and was shown to be an important component of disease resistance in several plant pathogen interactions. Glucosinolates (GS) are characteristic phytoanticipins of the Brassicaceae family including Arabidopsis. GS are best known as repellents or attractants for herbivorous insects and their predators whereas their antimicrobial potential has received relatively little attention. The GS are glucosides and the biologically active aglycone is released upon biotic stress by glucohydrolase enzymes commenly called myrosinases. Because an Arabidopsis mutant susceptible to the oomycete pathogen Phytophthora brassicae shows a partial deficiency in both camalexin and iGS accumulation we became intrigued by the role of these secondary compounds in disease resistance. Our results show that disease resistance of Arabidopsis to P. brassicae is established by the combined action of iGS and camalexin.

MeSH terms

  • Arabidopsis / metabolism*
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / metabolism*
  • Disease Resistance / physiology*
  • Glucosinolates / metabolism*
  • Indoles / metabolism*
  • Mutation
  • Phytophthora*
  • Plant Diseases / microbiology*
  • Sesquiterpenes / metabolism
  • Thiazoles / metabolism*


  • Arabidopsis Proteins
  • Glucosinolates
  • Indoles
  • Sesquiterpenes
  • Thiazoles
  • camalexin
  • phytoalexins