Inducible Resistance Signalling

The focus of the group is on inducible resistance in plants, including systemic acquired resistance (SAR), a form of innate immune memory providing long-lasting broad-spectrum disease resistance in systemic parts of locally infected plants. Over the past decade an increasing number of potentially mobile SAR signaling entities has been identified, and we aim to integrate these signals in a SAR signaling network and to link this network to established phytohormone signaling pathways. To this end, we employ the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana, in which we identified SAR signaling entities, including LEGUME LECTIN LIKE PROTEIN1 (LLP1) and volatile monoterpenes. In addition, the monoterpenes α- and β-pinene appear to act as infochemicals mediating inter-plant communication to propagate innate immune signals between neighboring plants.

The group also has a strong focus on inducible resistance in monocotyledonous crop plants having established pathosystems for SAR-like immunity in barley and wheat. Unlike Arabidopsis SAR, SAR-like immunity in barley does not appear to be associated with the phytohormone salicylic acid (SA). Rather, we associated barley SAR-like resistance with the enhanced transcript accumulation of particular transcription factors, which are currently under further investigation in the laboratory. Also, we aim to establish the extent, to which knowledge gained from Arabidopsis SAR can be transferred to barley in the SFB924 subproject ‚Systemic immunity in Arabidopsis and barley – dissecting divergence and similarities’.

Figure 1 ‚Plant-to-plant SAR‘. Wild type (wt) or geranyl geranyl reductase 1 (ggr1) mutant plants were either mock-treated or infected with the SAR-inducing bacterial pathogen Pst AvrRpm1. Subsequently, these ‚sender‘ plants were incubated with healthy wt ‚recipient‘ plants. After 3 days, the recipients were infected with Pseudomonas syringae pathovar tomato (Pst). The resulting Pst titers are shown at 4 days post-inoculation. Infected wt plants send airborne signals that enhance the resistance of wt recipients to Pst, whereas such signals are missing from the emissions of the ggr mutants, which display reduced monoterpene biosynthesis. Figure was adapted from Riedlmeier et al., 2017, Plant Cell 29: 1440-1459.
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