Acta Physiologiae Plantarum

, Volume 36, Issue 10, pp 2537–2546 | Cite as

Salicylic acid and photosynthesis: signalling and effects

  • Tibor JandaEmail author
  • Orsolya Kinga Gondor
  • Rusina Yordanova
  • Gabriella Szalai
  • Magda Pál


Salicylic acid (SA) is a well-known signalling molecule playing a role in local and systemic acquired resistance against pathogens as well as in acclimation to certain abiotic stressors. As a stress-related signalling compound, it may directly or indirectly affect various physiological processes, including photosynthesis. The effects of exogenously applied SA on plant physiological processes under optimal environmental conditions are controversial. Several studies suggest that SA may have a positive effect on germination or plant growth in various plant species. However, SA may also act as a stress factor, having a negative influence on various physiological processes. Its mode of action depends greatly on several factors, such as the plant species, the environmental conditions (light, temperature, etc.) and the concentration. Exogenous SA may also alleviate the damaging effects of various stress factors, and this protection may also be manifested as higher photosynthetic capacity. Unfavourable environmental conditions have also been shown to increase the endogenous SA level in plants. Recent results strongly suggest that controlled SA levels are important in plants for optimal photosynthetic performance and for acclimation to changing environmental stimuli. The present review discusses the effects of exogenous and endogenous SA on the photosynthetic processes under optimal and stress conditions.


Fluorescence quenching Net photosynthesis Oxidative stress Salicylic acid Stomatal conductivity Stress responses 



Cinnamic acid


Intercellular CO2 concentration


Maximum chlorophyll-a fluorescence at dark-adapted state


Variable chlorophyll-a fluorescence at dark-adapted state


Stomatal conductivity


Isochorismate synthase


Non-photochemical fluorescence quenching


ortho-Hydroxycinnamic acid


Phenylalanine ammonia lyase


Phosphoenolpyruvate carboxylase


Net photosynthetic rate




Reactive oxygen species


Salicylic acid




Actual photochemical efficiency of PSII



This work was supported by Hungarian National Research Fund (OTKA PD 83840; K 108838/108834). Magda Pál is a grantee of János Bolyai scholarship.


  1. Alibert G, Boudet A, Ranjeva R (1972) Studies on the enzymes catalysts of biosynthesis of phenolic acids in Quercus pedunculata. III. Sequential formation of cinnamic, p-coumaric and caffeic acids from phenylalanine by isolated cell organelles. Physiol Plant 27:240–243CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Ananieva EA, Alexieva VS, Popova LP (2002) Treatment with salicylic acid decreases the effects of paraquat on photosynthesis. J Plant Physiol 159:685–693CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Arfan M, Athar HR, Ashraf M (2007) Does exogenous application of salicylic acid through the rooting medium modulate growth and photosynthetic capacity in two differently adapted spring wheat cultivars under salt stress? J Plant Physiol 164:685–694PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Ashraf M, Harris PJC (2013) Photosynthesis under stressful environments: an overview. Photosynthetica 51:163–190CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bilger W, Bjorkman O (1991) Temperature dependence of violaxanthin deepoxidation and non-photochemical fluorescence quenching in intact leaves of Gossypium hirsutum L. and Malva parviflora L. Planta 184:226–234PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Çag S, Cevahir-Öz G, Sarsag M, Gören-Saglam N (2009) Effect of salicylic acid on pigment, protein content and peroxidase activity in excised sunflower cotyledons. Pak J Bot 41:2297–2303Google Scholar
  7. Catinot J, Buchala A, Abou-Mansour E, Metraux JP (2008) Salicylic acid production in response to biotic and abiotic stress depends on isochorismate in Nicotiana benthamiana. FEBS Lett 582:473–478PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Chandra A, Bhatt RK (1998) Biochemical physiological response to salicylic acid in relation to the systemic acquired resistance. Photosynthetica 35:255–258CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Chen Z, Zheng Z, Huang J, Lai Z, Fan B (2009) Biosynthesis of salicylic acid in plants. Plant Sign Behav 4:493–496CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Clough SJ, Fengler KA, Yu IC, Lippok B, Smith RK Jr, Bent AF (2000) The Arabidopsis dnd1 ‘defense, no death’ gene encodes a mutated cyclic nucleotide-gated ion channel. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 97:9323–9328PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  11. Ducruet JM (2003) Chlorophyll thermoluminescence of leaf discs: simple instruments and progress in signal interpretation open the way to new ecophysiological indicators. J Exp Bot 54:2419–2430PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. El-Basyouni SZ, Chen D, Ibrahim RK, Neish AC, Towers GHN (1964) The biosynthesis of hydroxybenzoic acids in higher plants. Phytochemistry 3:485–492CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Enyedi AJ (1999) Induction of salicylic acid biosynthesis and systemic acquired resistance using the active oxygen species generator rose Bengal. J Plant Physiol 154:106–112CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Fariduddin Q, Hayat S, Ahmad A (2003) Salicylic acid influences net photosynthetic rate, carboxylation efficiency, nitrate reductase activity, and seed yield in Brassica juncea. Photosynthetica 41:281–284CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Fraser CM, Chappel C (2011) The phenylpropanoid pathway in Arabidopsis. Arab Book 9:e0152CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Gawroński P, Górecka M, Bederska M, Rusaczonek A, Ślesak I, Kruk J, Karpiński S (2013) Isochorismate synthase 1 is required for thylakoid organization, optimal plastoquinone redox status, and state transitions in Arabidopsis thaliana. J Exp Bot 64:3669–3679PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  17. Gémes K, Poór P, Sulyok Z, Szepesi Á, Szabó M, Tari I (2008) Role of salicylic acid pretreatment in the photosynthetic performance of tomato plants (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill. L. cvar. Rio Fuego) under salt stress. Acta Biol Szegediensis 52:161–162Google Scholar
  18. Ghai N, Setia RC, Setia N (2002) Effects of paclobutrazol and salicylic acid on chlorophyll content, hill activity and yield components in Brassica napus L. (cv. GSL-1). Phytomorphology 52:83–87Google Scholar
  19. Gutiérrez-Coronado MA, Trejo-López C, Larqué-Saavedra A (1998) Effect of salicylic acid on the growth of roots and shoots in soybean. Plant Physiol Biochem 36:563–565CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Hayat S, Fariduddin Q, Ali B, Ahmad A (2005) Effect of salicylic acid on growth and enzyme activities of wheat seedlings. Acta Agron Hung 53:433–437CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Hayat Q, Hayat S, Irfan M, Ahmad A (2010) Effect of exogenous salicylic acid under changing environment: a review. Environ Exp Bot 68:14–25CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Herrman KM, Weaver LM (1999) The shikimate pathway. Annu Rev Plant Physiol Plant Mol Biol 50:473–503CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Horváth E, Szalai G, Janda T (2007) Induction of abiotic stress tolerance by salicylic acid signaling. J Plant Growth Regul 26:290–300CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Janda T, Szalai G, Tari I, Páldi E (1999) Hydroponic treatment with salicylic acid decreases the effects of chilling injury in maize (Zea mays L.) plants. Planta 208:175–180CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Janda T, Szalai G, Antunovics Z, Horváth E, Páldi E (2000) Effect of benzoic acid and aspirin on chilling tolerance and photosynthesis in young maize plants. Maydica 45:29–33Google Scholar
  26. Janda T, Szalai G, Leskó K, Yordanova R, Apostol S, Popova LP (2007) Factors contributing to enhanced freezing tolerance in wheat during frost hardening in the light. Phytochemistry 68:1674–1682PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Janda K, Hideg É, Szalai G, Kovács L, Janda T (2012) Salicylic acid may indirectly influence the photosynthetic electron transport. J Plant Physiol 169:971–978PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Khan W, Prithiviraj B, Smith DL (2003) Photosynthetic responses of corn and soybean to foliar application of salicylates. J Plant Physiol 160:485–492PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Klambt HD (1962) Conversion in plants of benzoic acid to salicylic acid and its β-d-glucoside. Nature 196:491CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Kosova K, Prasil IT, Vitamvas P, Dobrev P, Motyka V, Flokova K, Novak O, Turecková V, Rolcik J, Pesek B, Travnickova A, Gaudinova A, Galiba G, Janda T, Vlasakova E, Prasilova P, Vankova R (2012) Complex phytohormone responses during the cold acclimation of two wheat cultivars differing in cold tolerance, winter Samanta and spring Sandra. J Plant Physiol 169:567–576PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Krantev A, Yordanova R, Janda T, Szalai G, Popova L (2008) Treatment with salicylic acid decreases the effect of cadmium on photosynthesis in maize plants. J Plant Physiol 165:920–931PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Krik V, Bouyer D, Schöbinger U, Bechtold N, Herzog M, Bonneville JM, Hülskamp M (2001) CPR5 is involved in cell proliferation and cell death control and encodes a novel transmembrane protein. Curr Biol 11:1891–1895CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Kusumi K, Yaeno T, Kojo K, Hirayama M, Hirokawa D, Yara A, Iba K (2006) The role of salicylic acid in the glutathione-mediated protection against photooxidative stress in rice. Physiol Plant 128:651–661CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Li L, Dong CJ, Shang QM (2013) Role of endogenous salicylic acid in responding of cucumber leaf photosynthetic systems to low temperature stress. Acta Hortic Sinica 40:487–497Google Scholar
  35. Liu W, Ai XZ, Liang WJ, Wang HT, Liu SX, Zheng N (2009) Effects of salicylic acid on the leaf photosynthesis and antioxidant enzyme activities of cucumber seedlings under low temperature and light intensity. Chin J Appl Ecol 20:441–445Google Scholar
  36. Majláth I, Szalai G, Soós V, Sebestyén E, Balázs E, Vanková R, Dobrev PI, Tandori J, Janda T (2012) Effect of light on the gene expression and hormonal status of winter and spring wheat plants during cold hardening. Physiol Plant 145:296–314PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Maslenkova L, Peeva V, Stojnova Z, Popova L (2009) Salicylic acid-induced changes in photosystem II reactions in barley plants. Biotechnol Biotechnol Equip (23/2009/se special edition/on-line)Google Scholar
  38. Mateo A, Mühlenbock P, Rusterucci C, Chang CC, Miszalski Z, Karpinska B, Parker JE, Mullineaux PM, Karpinski S (2004) Lesion simulating disease 1 is required for acclimation to conditions that promote excess excitation energy. Plant Physiol 136:2818–2830PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  39. Mateo A, Funck D, Mühlenbock P, Kular B, Mullineaux PM, Karpinski S (2006) Controlled levels of salicylic acid are required for optimal photosynthesis and redox homeostasis. J Exp Bot 57:1795–1807PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Metodiev MV, Kicheva MI, Stoinova ZG, Popova LP (2002) Two-dimensional electrophoretic analysis of salicylic acid-induced changes in polypeptide pattern of barley leaves. Biol Plant 45:585–588CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Meuwly P, Métraux JP (1993) Ortho-anisic acid as internal standard for the simultaneous quantitation of salicylic acid and its putative biosynthetic precursors in cucumber leaves. Anal Biochem 214:500–505PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Moradkhani S, Khavari Nejad RA, Dilmaghani K, Chaparzadeh N (2012) Effect of salicylic acid treatment on cadmium toxicity and leaf lipid composition in sunflower. J Stress Physiol Biochem 8:78–89Google Scholar
  43. Munné-Bosch S, Penuelas J, Llusia J (2007) A deficiency in salicylic acid alters isoprenoid accumulation in water-stressed NahG transgenic Arabidopsis plants. Plant Sci 172:756–762CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Noreen S, Ashraf M (2008) Alleviation of adverse effects of salt stress on sunflower (Helianthus annuus L.) by exogenous application of salicylic acid: growth and photosynthesis. Pak J Bot 40:1657–1663Google Scholar
  45. Pál M, Horváth E, Janda T, Páldi E, Szalai G (2005) Cadmium stimulates the accumulation of salicylic acid and its putative precursors in maize (Zea mays L.) plants. Physiol Plant 125:356–364CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Pál M, Kovács V, Vida G, Szalai G, Janda T (2013) Changes induced by powdery mildew in the salicylic acid and polyamine contents and the antioxidant enzyme activities of wheat lines. Eur J Plant Pathol 135:35–47CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Pál M, Kovács V, Szalai G, Soós V, Ma X, Liu H, Mei H, Janda T (2014) Salicylic acid and abiotic stress responses in rice. J Agron Crop Sci 200:1–11CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Pancheva TV, Popova LP (1998) Effect of salicylic acid on the synthesis of ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase in barley leaves. J Plant Physiol 152:381–386CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Pancheva TV, Popova LP, Uzunova AN (1996) Effects of salicylic acid on growth and photosynthesis in barley plants. J Plant Physiol 149:57–63CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Penuelas J, Munné-Bosch S (2005) Isoprenoids: an evolutionary pool for photoprotection. Trends Plant Sci 10:166–169PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Poór P, Tari I (2012) Regulation of stomatal movement and photosynthetic activity in guard cells of tomato abaxial epidermal peels by salicylic acid. Funct Plant Biol 39:1028–1037CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Poór P, Gémes K, Horváth F, Szepesi Á, Simon ML, Tari I (2011) Salicylic acid treatment via the rooting medium interferes with stomatal response, CO2 fixation rate and carbohydrate metabolism in tomato, and decreases harmful effects of subsequent salt stress. Plant Biol 13:105–114PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Popova LP, Maslenkova LT, Yordanova RY, Ivanova AP, Krantev AP, Szalai G, Janda T (2009) Exogenous treatment with salicylic acid attenuates cadmium toxicity in pea seedlings. Plant Physiol Biochem 47:224–231PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Qiu C, Ji W, Guo Y (2011) Effects of high temperature and strong light on chlorophyll fluorescence, the D1 protein, and Deg1 protease in Satsuma mandarin, and the protective role of salicylic acid. Acta Ecol Sinica 31:3802–3810Google Scholar
  55. Radwan DEM, Soltan DM (2012) The negative effects of clethodim in photosynthesis and gas-exchange status of maize plants are ameliorated by salicylic acid pretreatment. Photosynthetica 50:171–179CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Raskin I (1992a) Role of salicylic acid in plants. Annu Rev Plant Physiol Plant Mol Biol 43:439–463CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Raskin I (1992b) Salicylate, a new plant hormone. Plant Physiol 99:799–803PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  58. Sahu GK, Kar M, Sabat SC (2002) Electron transport activities of isolated thylakoids from wheat plants grown in salicylic acid. Plant Biol 4:321–328CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Saruhan N, Saglam A, Kadioglu A (2012) Salicylic acid pretreatment induces drought tolerance and delays leaf rolling by inducing antioxidant systems in maize genotypes. Acta Physiol Plant 34:97–106CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Sasheva P, Yordanova R, Janda T, Szalai G, Maslenkova L (2013) Study of primary photosynthetic reactions in winter wheat cultivars after cold hardening and freezing. Effect of salicylic acid. Bulg J Agric Sci 19:45–48Google Scholar
  61. Shakirova FM (2007) Role of hormonal system in the manisfestation of growth promoting and anti-stress action of salicylic acid. In: Hayat S, Ahmad A (eds) Salicylic acid, a plant hormone. Springer, Dordrecht, pp 69–89CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Silverman P, Seskar M, Kanter D, Schweizer P, Métraux JP, Raskin I (1995) Salicylic acid in rice. Biosynthesis, conjugation, and possible role. Plant Physiol 108:633–639PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  63. Singh PK, Gautam S (2013) Role of salicylic acid on physiological and biochemical mechanism of salinity stress tolerance in plants. Acta Physiol Plant 35:2345–2353CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Spetea C, Hundal T, Lundin B, Heddad M, Adamska I, Andersson B (2004) Multiple evidence for nucleotide metabolism in the chloroplast thylakoid lumen. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 101:1409–1414PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  65. Szalai G, Janda T (2009) Effect of salt stress on the salicylic acid synthesis in young maize (Zea mays L.) plants. J Agron Crop Sci 195:165–171CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Szalai G, Horgosi S, Soós V, Majláth I, Balázs E, Janda T (2011) Salicylic acid treatment of pea seeds induces its de novo synthesis. J Plant Physiol 168:213–219PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Szalai G, Krantev A, Yordanova R, Popova LP, Janda T (2013) Influence of salicylic acid on phytochelatin synthesis in Zea mays during Cd stress. Turk J Bot 37:708–714Google Scholar
  68. Tirani MM, Nasibi F, Kalantari KM (2013) Interaction of salicylic acid and ethylene and their effects on some physiological and biochemical parameters in canola plants (Brassica napus L.). Photosynthetica 51:411–418CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Tóth SZ, Schansker G, Garab G (2013) The physiological roles and metabolism of ascorbate in chloroplasts. Physiol Plant 148:161–175PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Uzunova AN, Popova LP (2000) Effect of salicylic acid on leaf anatomy and chloroplast ultrastructure of barley plants. Photosynthetica 38:243–250CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Vicent MRS, Plasencia J (2011) Salicylic acid beyond defence: its role in plant growth and development. J Exp Bot 62:3321–3338CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Vogt T (2010) Phenylpropanoid biosythesis. Mol Plant 3:2–20PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Wang LJ, Fan L, Loescher W, Duan W, Liu GJ, Cheng JS, Luo HB, Li SH (2010) Salicylic acid alleviates decreases in photosynthesis under heat stress and accelerates recovery in grapevine leaves. BMC Plant Biol 10:34PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  74. War AR, Paulraj MG, War MY, Ignacimuthu S (2011) Role of salicylic acid in induction of plant defense system in chickpea (Cicer arietinum L.). Plant Signal Behav 6:1787–1792PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  75. Wildermuth MC (2006) Variations on a theme: synthesis and modification of plant benzoic acids. Curr Opin Plant Biol 9:288–296PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Wildermuth MC, Dewdney J, Wu G, Ausubel FM (2001) Isochorismate synthase in required to synthesize salicylic acid for plant defence. Nature 414:562–565PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Wu LJ, Zu XF, Wang XT, Sun AG, Zhang J, Wang SX, Chen YH (2013) Comparative proteomic analysis of the effects of salicylic acid and abscisic acid on maize (Zea mays L.) leaves. Plant Mol Biol Rep 31:507–516CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Xue LJ, Guo W, Yuan Y, Anino EO, Nyamdari B, Wilson MC, Frost CJ, Chen HY, Babst BA, Harding SA, Tsai CJ (2013) Constitutively elevated salicylic acid levels alter photosynthesis and oxidative state but not growth in transgenic populous. Plant Cell 25:2714–2730PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  79. Yalpani N, Enyedi AJ, León J, Raskin I (1994) Ultraviolet light and ozone stimulate accumulation of salicylic acid, pathogenesis-related proteins and virus resistance in tobacco. Planta 193:372–376CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  80. Yang Y, Qi M, Mei C (2004) Endogenous salicylic acid protects rice plants from oxidative damage caused by aging as well as biotic and abiotic stress. Plant J 40:909–919PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. Yoshida S, Ito M, Nishida I, Watanabe A (2002) Identification of a novel gene HYS1/CPR5 that has a repressive role in the induction of leaf senescence and pathogen-defence responses in Arabidopsis thaliana. Plant J 29:427–437PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. Yu IC, Parker J, Bent AF (1998) Gene-for-gene disease resistance without the hypersensitive response in Arabidopsis dnd1 mutant. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 95:7819–7824PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  83. Zhao HJ, Zhao XJ, Ma PF, Wang YX, Hu WW, Li LH, Zhao YD (2011) Effects of salicylic acid on protein kinase activity and chloroplast D1 protein degradation in wheat leaves subjected to heat and high light stress. Acta Ecol Sinica 31:259–263CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Franciszek Górski Institute of Plant Physiology, Polish Academy of Sciences, Kraków 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tibor Janda
    • 1
    Email author
  • Orsolya Kinga Gondor
    • 1
  • Rusina Yordanova
    • 2
  • Gabriella Szalai
    • 1
  • Magda Pál
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for Agricultural Research, Agricultural InstituteHungarian Academy of SciencesMartonvásárHungary
  2. 2.Institute of Plant Physiology and GeneticsBulgarian Academy of SciencesSofiaBulgaria

Personalised recommendations