Root-specific camalexin biosynthesis controls the plant growth-promoting effects of multiple bacterial strains

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2019 Jul 30;116(31):15735-15744. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1818604116. Epub 2019 Jul 16.


Plants in their natural ecosystems interact with numerous microorganisms, but how they influence their microbiota is still elusive. We observed that sulfatase activity in soil, which can be used as a measure of rhizosphere microbial activity, is differently affected by Arabidopsis accessions. Following a genome-wide association analysis of the variation in sulfatase activity we identified a candidate gene encoding an uncharacterized cytochrome P450, CYP71A27 Loss of this gene resulted in 2 different and independent microbiota-specific phenotypes: A lower sulfatase activity in the rhizosphere and a loss of plant growth-promoting effect by Pseudomonas sp. CH267. On the other hand, tolerance to leaf pathogens was not affected, which agreed with prevalent expression of CYP71A27 in the root vasculature. The phenotypes of cyp71A27 mutant were similar to those of cyp71A12 and cyp71A13, known mutants in synthesis of camalexin, a sulfur-containing indolic defense compound. Indeed, the cyp71A27 mutant accumulated less camalexin in the roots upon elicitation with silver nitrate or flagellin. Importantly, addition of camalexin complemented both the sulfatase activity and the loss of plant growth promotion by Pseudomonas sp. CH267. Two alleles of CYP71A27 were identified among Arabidopsis accessions, differing by a substitution of Glu373 by Gln, which correlated with the ability to induce camalexin synthesis and to gain fresh weight in response to Pseudomonas sp. CH267. Thus, CYP71A27 is an additional component in the camalexin synthesis pathway, contributing specifically to the control of plant microbe interactions in the root.

Keywords: Arabidopsis; GWAS; plant microbiome function; sulfur containing phytoalexins.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Arabidopsis* / genetics
  • Arabidopsis* / metabolism
  • Arabidopsis* / microbiology
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System* / genetics
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System* / metabolism
  • Indoles / metabolism*
  • Mutation
  • Plant Roots* / genetics
  • Plant Roots* / metabolism
  • Plant Roots* / microbiology
  • Pseudomonas / metabolism*
  • Thiazoles / metabolism*


  • Indoles
  • Thiazoles
  • camalexin
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System