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J Exp Bot. 2011 Jun;62(10):3321-38. doi: 10.1093/jxb/err031. Epub 2011 Feb 28.

Salicylic acid beyond defence: its role in plant growth and development.

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Departamento de Bioquímica, Facultad de Química, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Av. Universidad y Copilco, 04510, México, DF, México.


In recent years salicylic acid (SA) has been the focus of intensive research due to its function as an endogenous signal mediating local and systemic plant defence responses against pathogens. It has also been found that SA plays a role during the plant response to abiotic stresses such as drought, chilling, heavy metal toxicity, heat, and osmotic stress. In this sense, SA appears to be, just like in mammals, an 'effective therapeutic agent' for plants. Besides this function during biotic and abiotic stress, SA plays a crucial role in the regulation of physiological and biochemical processes during the entire lifespan of the plant. The discovery of its targets and the understanding of its molecular modes of action in physiological processes could help in the dissection of the complex SA signalling network, confirming its important role in both plant health and disease. Here, the evidence that supports the role of SA during plant growth and development is reviewed by comparing experiments performed by exogenous application of SA with analysis of genotypes affected by SA levels and/or perception.

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