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Plant Cell. 2010 Oct;22(10):3193-205. doi: 10.1105/tpc.110.073858. Epub 2010 Oct 8.

Arachidonic acid: an evolutionarily conserved signaling molecule modulates plant stress signaling networks.

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Department of Plant Biology, University of California, Davis, California 95616, USA.


Fatty acid structure affects cellular activities through changes in membrane lipid composition and the generation of a diversity of bioactive derivatives. Eicosapolyenoic acids are released into plants upon infection by oomycete pathogens, suggesting they may elicit plant defenses. We exploited transgenic Arabidopsis thaliana plants (designated EP) producing eicosadienoic, eicosatrienoic, and arachidonic acid (AA), aimed at mimicking pathogen release of these compounds. We also examined their effect on biotic stress resistance by challenging EP plants with fungal, oomycete, and bacterial pathogens and an insect pest. EP plants exhibited enhanced resistance to all biotic challenges, except they were more susceptible to bacteria than the wild type. Levels of jasmonic acid (JA) were elevated and levels of salicylic acid (SA) were reduced in EP plants. Altered expression of JA and SA pathway genes in EP plants shows that eicosapolyenoic acids effectively modulate stress-responsive transcriptional networks. Exogenous application of various fatty acids to wild-type and JA-deficient mutants confirmed AA as the signaling molecule. Moreover, AA treatment elicited heightened expression of general stress-responsive genes. Importantly, tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) leaves treated with AA exhibited reduced susceptibility to Botrytis cinerea infection, confirming AA signaling in other plants. These studies support the role of AA, an ancient metazoan signaling molecule, in eliciting plant stress and defense signaling networks.

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