• Cysteine is the metabolic precursor of essential biomolecules such as vitamins, cofactors, antioxidants and many defense compounds. The last step of cysteine metabolism is catalysed by O-acetylserine(thiol)lyase (OASTL), which incorporates reduced sulfur into O-acetylserine to produce cysteine. In Arabidopsis thaliana, the main OASTL isoform OAS-A1 and the cytosolic desulfhydrase DES1, which degrades cysteine, contribute to the cytosolic cysteine homeostasis. • Meta-analysis of the transcriptomes of knockout plants for OAS-A1 and for DES1 show a high correlation with the biotic stress series in both cases. • The study of the response of knockout mutants to plant pathogens shows that des1 mutants behave as constitutive systemic acquired resistance mutants, with high resistance to biotrophic and necrotrophic pathogens, salicylic acid accumulation and WRKY54 and PR1 induction, while oas-a1 knockout mutants are more sensitive to biotrophic and necrotrophic pathogens. However, oas-a1 knockout mutants lack the hypersensitive response associated with the effector-triggered immunity elicited by Pseudomonas syringae pv. tomato DC3000 avrRpm1. • Our results highlight the role of cysteine as a crucial metabolite in the plant immune response.
© 2011 The Authors. New Phytologist © 2011 New Phytologist Trust.