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Plant J. 2007 Nov;52(4):700-15. Epub 2007 Sep 10.

Increased SA in NPR1-silenced plants antagonizes JA and JA-dependent direct and indirect defenses in herbivore-attacked Nicotiana attenuata in nature.

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Department of Molecular Ecology, Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology, Hans-Knöll-Str. 8, D-07745 Jena, Germany.


The phytohormone jasmonic acid (JA) is known to mediate herbivore resistance, while salicylic acid (SA) and non-expressor of PR-1 (NPR1) mediate pathogen resistance in many plants. Herbivore attack on Nicotiana attenuata elicits increases in JA and JA-mediated defenses, but also increases SA levels and Na-NPR1 transcripts from the plant's single genomic copy. SA treatment of wild-type plants increases Na-NPR1 and Na-PR1 transcripts. Plants silenced in NPR1 accumulation by RNAi (ir-npr1) are highly susceptible to herbivore and pathogen attack when planted in their native habitat in Utah. They are also impaired in their ability to attract Geocorus pallens predators, due to their decreased ability to release cis-alpha-bergamotene, a JA-elicited volatile 'alarm call'. In the glasshouse, Spodoptera exigua larvae grew better on ir-npr1 plants, which had low levels of JA, JA-isoleucine/leucine, lipoxygenase-3 (LOX3) transcripts and JA-elicited direct defense metabolites (nicotine, caffeoyl putrescine and rutin), but high levels of SA and isochorismate synthase (ICS) transcripts, suggesting de novo biosynthesis of SA. A microarray analysis revealed downregulation of many JA-elicited genes and upregulation of SA biosynthetic genes. JA treatment restored nicotine levels and resistance to S. exigua in ir-npr1 plants. We conclude that, during herbivore attack, NPR1 negatively regulates SA production, allowing the unfettered elicitation of JA-mediated defenses; when NPR1 is silenced, the elicited increases in SA production antagonize JA and JA-related defenses, making the plants susceptible to herbivores.

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