, Volume 37, Issue 5, p 429
Date: 05 May 2011

New Synthesis -- Plant Defense Signaling: New Opportunities for Studying Chemical Diversity

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Higher plants have evolved multilayered defense signaling systems that are based on the generation and perception of small molecules. These signaling pathways provide warning of incoming danger, triggering not only local resistance responses but also long-distance signals that lead to the protection of the whole plant against subsequent attack. This induced resistance against pathogens and herbivores often involves the production of alkaloids, terpenes, phenolics, and other small molecules with toxic and deterrent properties. However, although there are thousands of known plant metabolites with direct defensive functions, relatively few signaling molecules have been identified. Among these, salicylate, jasmonate, and related metabolites are the most extensively studied, and likely have universal functions as components of pathways leading to the induction of both local and systemic plant defense responses.

Salicylate and jasmonate-dependent signaling pathways in plants are presumed to h