Rhamnolipids elicit defense responses and induce disease resistance against biotrophic, hemibiotrophic, and necrotrophic pathogens that require different signaling pathways in Arabidopsis and highlight a central role for salicylic acid

Lisa Sanchez, Barbara Courteaux, Jane Hubert, Serge Kauffmann, Jean-Hugues Renault, Christophe Clément, Fabienne Baillieul, Stéphan Dorey
Plant Physiology 2012, 160 (3): 1630-41
Plant resistance to phytopathogenic microorganisms mainly relies on the activation of an innate immune response usually launched after recognition by the plant cells of microbe-associated molecular patterns. The plant hormones, salicylic acid (SA), jasmonic acid, and ethylene have emerged as key players in the signaling networks involved in plant immunity. Rhamnolipids (RLs) are glycolipids produced by bacteria and are involved in surface motility and biofilm development. Here we report that RLs trigger an immune response in Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) characterized by signaling molecules accumulation and defense gene activation. This immune response participates to resistance against the hemibiotrophic bacterium Pseudomonas syringae pv tomato, the biotrophic oomycete Hyaloperonospora arabidopsidis, and the necrotrophic fungus Botrytis cinerea. We show that RL-mediated resistance involves different signaling pathways that depend on the type of pathogen. Ethylene is involved in RL-induced resistance to H. arabidopsidis and to P. syringae pv tomato whereas jasmonic acid is essential for the resistance to B. cinerea. SA participates to the restriction of all pathogens. We also show evidence that SA-dependent plant defenses are potentiated by RLs following challenge by B. cinerea or P. syringae pv tomato. These results highlight a central role for SA in RL-mediated resistance. In addition to the activation of plant defense responses, antimicrobial properties of RLs are thought to participate in the protection against the fungus and the oomycete. Our data highlight the intricate mechanisms involved in plant protection triggered by a new type of molecule that can be perceived by plant cells and that can also act directly onto pathogens.

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