The Bile Acid Deoxycholate Elicits Defences in Arabidopsis and Reduces Bacterial Infection

Mol Plant Pathol. 2017 May;18(4):540-554. doi: 10.1111/mpp.12416. Epub 2016 Jul 1.


Disease has an effect on crop yields, causing significant losses. As the worldwide demand for agricultural products increases, there is a need to pursue the development of new methods to protect crops from disease. One mechanism of plant protection is through the activation of the plant immune system. By exogenous application, 'plant activator molecules' with elicitor properties can be used to activate the plant immune system. These defence-inducing molecules represent a powerful and often environmentally friendly tool to fight pathogens. We show that the secondary bile acid deoxycholic acid (DCA) induces defence in Arabidopsis and reduces the proliferation of two bacterial phytopathogens: Erwinia amylovora and Pseudomonas syringae pv. tomato. We describe the global defence response triggered by this new plant activator in Arabidopsis at the transcriptional level. Several induced genes were selected for further analysis by quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction. We describe the kinetics of their induction and show that abiotic stress, such as moderate drought or nitrogen limitation, does not impede DCA induction of defence. Finally, we investigate the role in the activation of defence by this bile acid of the salicylic acid biosynthesis gene SID2, of the receptor-like kinase family genes WAK1-3 and of the NADPH oxidase-encoding RbohD gene. Altogether, we show that DCA constitutes a promising molecule for plant protection which can induce complementary lines of defence, such as callose deposition, reactive oxygen species accumulation and the jasmonic acid and salicylic acid signalling pathways.

Keywords: Erwinia amylovora; Pseudomonas syringae; SID2; WAK; bile acid; elicitor; plant defence.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Arabidopsis / drug effects
  • Arabidopsis / genetics
  • Arabidopsis / immunology*
  • Arabidopsis / microbiology*
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / genetics
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / metabolism
  • Deoxycholic Acid / pharmacology*
  • Droughts
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant / drug effects
  • Kinetics
  • Plant Diseases / genetics
  • Plant Diseases / immunology*
  • Plant Diseases / microbiology*
  • Plant Leaves / drug effects
  • Plant Leaves / genetics
  • Plant Leaves / microbiology
  • Pseudomonas syringae / drug effects
  • Pseudomonas syringae / growth & development
  • Pseudomonas syringae / physiology*
  • Stress, Physiological / drug effects
  • Stress, Physiological / genetics
  • Transcriptome / drug effects
  • Transcriptome / genetics


  • Arabidopsis Proteins
  • Deoxycholic Acid