Long-distance communication and signal amplification in systemic acquired resistance

Front Plant Sci. 2013 Feb 22;4:30. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2013.00030. eCollection 2013.


Systemic acquired resistance (SAR) is an inducible defense mechanism in plants that confers enhanced resistance against a variety of pathogens. SAR is activated in the uninfected systemic (distal) organs in response to a prior (primary) infection elsewhere in the plant. SAR is associated with the activation of salicylic acid (SA) signaling and the priming of defense responses for robust activation in response to subsequent infections. The activation of SAR requires communication by the primary infected tissues with the distal organs. The vasculature functions as a conduit for the translocation of factors that facilitate long-distance intra-plant communication. In recent years, several metabolites putatively involved in long-distance signaling have been identified. These include the methyl ester of SA (MeSA), the abietane diterpenoid dehydroabietinal (DA), the dicarboxylic acid azelaic acid (AzA), and a glycerol-3-phosphate (G3P)-dependent factor. Long-distance signaling by some of these metabolites also requires the lipid-transfer protein DIR1 (DEFECTIVE IN INDUCED RESISTANCE 1). The relative contribution of these factors in long-distance signaling is likely influenced by environmental conditions, for example light. In the systemic leaves, the AGD2-LIKE DEFENSE RESPONSE PROTEIN1 (ALD1)-dependent production of the lysine catabolite pipecolic acid (Pip), FLAVIN-DEPENDENT MONOOXYGENASE1 (FMO1) signaling, as well as SA synthesis and downstream signaling are required for the activation of SAR. This review summarizes the involvement and interaction between long-distance SAR signals and details the recently discovered role of Pip in defense amplification and priming that allows plants to acquire immunity at the systemic level. Recent advances in SA signaling and perception are also highlighted.

Keywords: DIR1; azelaic acid; dehydroabietinal; glycerol-3-phosphate; methyl salicylate; pipecolic acid.