Potentiation of pathogen-specific defense mechanisms in Arabidopsis by β-aminobutyric acid

Laurent Zimmerli, Gabor Jakab, Jean Pierre Métraux, Brigitte Mauch-Mani

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The nonprotein amino acids γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and β-aminobutyric acid (BABA) have known biological effects in animals and plants. Their mode of action has been the object of thorough research in animals but remains unclear in plants. Our objective was to study the mode of action of BABA in the protection of Arabidopis plants against virulent pathogens. BABA protected Arabidopsis against the oomycete pathogen Peronospora parasitica through activation of natural defense mechanisms of the plant such as callose deposition, the hypersensitive response, and the formation of trailing necroses. BABA was still fully protective against P. parasitica in transgenic plants or mutants impaired in the salicylic acid, jasmonic acid, and ethylene signaling pathways. Treatment with BABA did not induce the accumulation of mRNA of the systemic acquired resistance (SAR)-associated PR-1 and the ethylene- and jasmonic acid-dependent PDF1.2 genes. However, BABA potentiated the accumulation of PR-1 mRNA after attack by virulent pathogenic bacteria. As a result, BABA-treated Arabidopsis plants were less diseased compared with the untreated control. In the case of bacteria, BABA protected mutants insensitive to jasmonic acid and ethylene but was not active in plants impaired in the SAR transduction pathway. Thus, BABA protects Arabidopsis against different virulent pathogens by potentiating pathogen-specific plant resistance mechanisms. In addition, we provide evidence that BABA-mediated papilla formation after P. parasitica infection is independent of the SAR signaling pathway.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12920-12925
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number23
Publication statusPublished - Nov 7 2000


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