Plant Cell Reports

, Volume 38, Issue 2, pp 173–182 | Cite as

The oomycete microbe-associated molecular pattern Pep-13 triggers SERK3/BAK1-independent plant immunity

  • Haixia Wang
  • Huan He
  • Yetong Qi
  • Hazel McLellan
  • Zhejuan Tian
  • Paul R. J. Birch
  • Zhendong TianEmail author
Original Article


Key message

Oomycetes MAMP Pep-13 can trigger SERK3/BAK1-independent PTI. Silencing of SERK3/BAK1 in solanaceous plants resulted in reduced expression of brassinosteroid marker genes and enhanced PTI transcriptional responses to Pep-13 treatment.


To prevent disease, pattern recognition receptors (PRRs) are responsible for detecting microbe-associated molecular patterns (MAMPs) to switch on plant innate immunity. SOMATIC EMBROYOGENESIS KINASE 3 (SERK3)/BRASSINOSTEROID INSENSITIVE 1-ASSOCIATED KINASE 1 (BAK1) is a well-characterized receptor-like kinase (RLK) that serves as a pivotal co-receptor with PRRs to activate immunity following recognition of MAMPs including flg22, EF-Tu, INF1 and XEG1. However, the requirement for SERK3/BAK1 in many pattern-triggered immune (PTI) signaling pathways is not yet known. Pep-13 is an oomycete MAMP that consists of a highly conserved motif (an oligopeptide of 13 amino acids) shared in Phytophthora transglutaminases. Quantitative RT-PCR analysis reveals that the transcripts of three PTI marker genes (WRKY7, WRKY8 and ACRE31) rapidly accumulate in response to three different MAMPs: flg22, chitin and Pep-13. Whereas silencing of SERK3/BAK1 in Nicotiana benthamiana or potato compromised transcript accumulation in response to flg22, it did not attenuate WRKY7, WRKY8 and ACRE31 up-regulation in response to chitin or Pep-13. This indicates that Pep-13 triggers immunity in a SERK3/BAK1-independent manner, similar to chitin. Surprisingly, silencing of SERK3/BAK1 led to significantly increased accumulation of PTI marker gene transcripts following Pep-13 or chitin treatment, compared to controls. This was accompanied by reduced expression of brassinosteroid (BR) marker genes StSTDH, StEXP8 and StCAB50 and StCHL1, which is a negative regulator of PTI, supporting previous reports that SERK3/BAK1-dependent BR signaling attenuates plant immunity. We provide Pep-13 as an alternative to chitin as a trigger of SERK3/BAK1-independent immunity.


MAMP Disease resistance Transcriptome Flagellin Late blight 



Pattern recognition receptors


Microbe-associated molecular patterns




Pattern-triggered immune


Effector-triggered immunity


Receptor-like kinase



This work was support by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31761143007, 31171603) and the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (2662017PY069) for funding ZT’s lab. We thank the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) for funding PRJB’s lab (BB/L026880/1).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

299_2018_2359_MOESM1_ESM.docx (2.7 mb)
Figure S1 Expression time courses of flg22 induced transcripts in potato and Nicotiana benthamiana. Figure S2 Expression time course of chitin induced transcripts in potato and N. benthamiana. Figure S3 Expression time courses of Pep13 induced transcripts in potato and N. benthamiana. Figure S4 Alignment of Solanum tuberosum (potato) and Nicotiana benthamiana SERK3/BAK1 full-length nucleotide sequences. Figure S5 The silencing of BAK1 in Solanum tuberosum. Figure S6 Virus-induced gene silencing (VIGS) of BAK1 in Nicotiana benthamiana. Table S1. Primer sequences used in this study (DOCX 2759 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Potato Biology and Biotechnology, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural AffairsHuazhong Agricultural University (HZAU)WuhanPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Key Laboratory of Horticultural Plant Biology (HZAU), Ministry of EducationHuazhong Agricultural UniversityWuhanPeople’s Republic of China
  3. 3.Division of Plant Sciences, School of Life ScienceUniversity of Dundee (at James Hutton Institute)DundeeUK
  4. 4.Cell and Molecular SciencesJames Hutton InstituteDundeeUK

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