The field of plant sphingolipid biology has evolved in recent years. Sphingolipids are abundant in cell membranes, and genetic analyses revealed essential roles for these lipids in plant growth, development, and responses to abiotic and biotic stress. Salicylic acid (SA) is a key signaling molecule that is required for induction of defense-related genes and rapid and localized cell death at the site of pathogen infection (hypersensitive response) during incompatible host-pathogen interactions. Conceivably, while levels of SA rapidly increase upon pathogen infection for defense activation, they must be tightly regulated during plant growth and development in the absence of pathogens. Genetic and biochemical evidence suggest that the sphingolipid intermediates, long-chain sphingoid bases, and ceramides, play a role in regulating SA accumulation in plant cells. However, how signals generated from the perturbation of these key sphingolipid intermediates are transduced into the activation of the SA pathway has long remained to be an interesting open question. At least four types of molecules - MAP kinase 6, reactive oxygen species, free calcium, and nitric oxide - could constitute a mechanistic link between sphingolipid metabolism and SA accumulation and signaling.
Keywords: ceramide; salicylic acid; sphinganine-analog mycotoxin; sphingoid bases; sphingolipid.