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Distinct function of SPL genes in age-related resistance in Arabidopsis.

PLoS Pathogens 2023 March 23
In plants, age-related resistance (ARR) refers to a gain of disease resistance during shoot or organ maturation. ARR associated with vegetative phase change, a transition from juvenile to adult stage, is a widespread agronomic trait affecting resistance against multiple pathogens. How innate immunity in a plant is differentially regulated during successive stages of shoot maturation is unclear. In this work, we found that Arabidopsis thaliana showed ARR against its bacterial pathogen Pseudomonas syringae pv. tomato DC3000 during vegetative phase change. The timing of the ARR activation was associated with a temporal drop of miR156 level. The microRNA miR156 maintains juvenile phase by inhibiting the accumulation and translation of SPL transcripts. A systematic inspection of the loss- and gain-of-function mutants of 11 SPL genes revealed that a subset of SPL genes, notably SPL2, SPL10, and SPL11, activated ARR in adult stage. The immune function of SPL10 was independent of its role in morphogenesis. Furthermore, the SPL10 mediated an age-dependent augmentation of the salicylic acid (SA) pathway partially by direct activation of PAD4. Disrupting SA biosynthesis or signaling abolished the ARR against Pto DC3000. Our work demonstrated that the miR156-SPL10 module in Arabidopsis is deployed to operate immune outputs over developmental timing.

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