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Plant Signal Behav. 2011 Mar;6(3):409-12. Epub 2011 Mar 1.

Simultaneous activation of salicylate production and fungal resistance in transgenic Chrysanthemum producing caffeine.

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  • 1Division of Forest Resources, College of Forest and Environmental Sciences, Kangwon National University, Chuncheon, Kangwon, Korea.


Caffeine functions in the chemical defense against biotic attackers in a few plant species, including coffee and tea. Transgenic tobacco plants that endogenously produced caffeine by expressing three N-methyltransferases involved in the caffeine biosynthesis pathway exhibited a strong resistance to pathogens and herbivores. Here we report that transgenic Chrysanthemum, which produced an equivalent level of caffeine as the tobacco plants at approximately 3 μg g(-1) fresh tissues, also exhibited a resistance against grey mold fungal attack. Transcripts of PR-2 gene, a marker for pathogen response, were constitutively accumulated in mature leaves without pathogen attack. The levels of salicylic acid and its glucoside conjugate in mature leaves of the transgenic lines were found to be 2.5-fold higher than in the wild type control. It is suggested that endogenous caffeine stimulated production and/or deposition of salicylates, which possibly activated a series of defense reactions even under non-stressed conditions.

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