Systemic acquired resistance in Arabidopsis requires salicylic acid but not ethylene

Mol Plant Microbe Interact. Nov-Dec 1995;8(6):863-70. doi: 10.1094/mpmi-8-0863.


Systemic acquired resistance (SAR) is an inducible plant response to infection by a necrotizing pathogen. In the induced plant, SAR provides broad-spectrum protection against not only the inducing pathogen, but also against other, unrelated pathogens. Both salicylic acid (SA) and SAR-gene expression have been implicated as playing important roles in the initiation and maintenance of SAR. Here, we describe the characterization of transgenic Arabidopsis plants that express the bacterial nahG gene encoding salicylate hydroxylase, an enzyme that can metabolize SA. Strong, constitutive expression of this gene prevents pathogen-induced accumulation of SA and the activation of SAR by exogenous SA. We show that SAR in Arabidopsis can be induced by inoculation with Pseudomonas syringe pv. tomato against infection by a challenge inoculation with Peronospora parasitica. This response is abolished in transgenic, nahG-expressing Arabidopsis, but not in ethylene-insensitive mutants. These experiments support the critical role of SA in SAR and show that ethylene sensitivity is not required for SAR induction. The NahG Arabidopsis plants will be important for future studies aimed at understanding the role of SA in plant disease resistance mechanisms.

MeSH terms

  • Arabidopsis / drug effects
  • Arabidopsis / microbiology*
  • Ethylenes / metabolism*
  • Immunity, Innate
  • Isonicotinic Acids / pharmacology
  • Mixed Function Oxygenases / genetics
  • Mixed Function Oxygenases / metabolism
  • Oomycetes / pathogenicity
  • Plant Diseases*
  • Plant Leaves / microbiology
  • Plants, Genetically Modified
  • Pseudomonas / pathogenicity
  • RNA, Messenger / analysis
  • RNA, Plant / analysis
  • Salicylates / metabolism*
  • Salicylic Acid


  • Ethylenes
  • Isonicotinic Acids
  • RNA, Messenger
  • RNA, Plant
  • Salicylates
  • 2,6-dichloroisonicotinic acid
  • ethylene
  • Mixed Function Oxygenases
  • salicylate 1-monooxygenase
  • Salicylic Acid