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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Conserved nematode signalling molecules elicit plant defenses and pathogen resistance.

  • Author(s): Manosalva, Patricia
  • Manohar, Murli
  • von Reuss, Stephan H
  • Chen, Shiyan
  • Koch, Aline
  • Kaplan, Fatma
  • Choe, Andrea
  • Micikas, Robert J
  • Wang, Xiaohong
  • Kogel, Karl-Heinz
  • Sternberg, Paul W
  • Williamson, Valerie M
  • Schroeder, Frank C
  • Klessig, Daniel F
  • et al.

Plant-defense responses are triggered by perception of conserved microbe-associated molecular patterns (MAMPs), for example, flagellin or peptidoglycan. However, it remained unknown whether plants can detect conserved molecular patterns derived from plant-parasitic animals, including nematodes. Here we show that several genera of plant-parasitic nematodes produce small molecules called ascarosides, an evolutionarily conserved family of nematode pheromones. Picomolar to micromolar concentrations of ascr#18, the major ascaroside in plant-parasitic nematodes, induce hallmark defense responses including the expression of genes associated with MAMP-triggered immunity, activation of mitogen-activated protein kinases, as well as salicylic acid- and jasmonic acid-mediated defense signalling pathways. Ascr#18 perception increases resistance in Arabidopsis, tomato, potato and barley to viral, bacterial, oomycete, fungal and nematode infections. These results indicate that plants recognize ascarosides as a conserved molecular signature of nematodes. Using small-molecule signals such as ascarosides to activate plant immune responses has potential utility to improve economic and environmental sustainability of agriculture.

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