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Pathogen-induced resistance and alarm signals in the phloem

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Despite a long-standing notion of long-distance signals triggering systemic acquired resistance (SAR), the translocation pathway and the identity of the signals involved have not been determined with any degree of certainty. A critical assessment indicates that, in parallel to signalling via the phloem, alternative modes for SAR induction such as signalling via the xylem or air-borne signalling by volatile substances may occur. This review further evaluates several classes of compounds as being functional in systemic resistance signalling. Evidence in favour of SAR involvement of phloem-mobile substances such as salicylic acid, lipid-derived molecules, reactive oxygen species and components of the antioxidant machinery is contradictory, circumstantial or inconclusive, at best. Nitric oxide bound to proteins or thiols seems a good candidate for signalling, but has not been found in phloem sap thus far. No convincing support of the involvement in SAR of phloem-mobile substances such as calcium, oligosaccharides, peptides or RNA species, which function in other systemic signalling cascades, has yet been produced. Nevertheless, phloem-mobile macromolecules are considered as potential tools for SAR given their pivotal role in remote gene expression under stress conditions. In this framework, the existence of several cascades for signal generation along the phloem pathway is envisaged. Finally, recent methods for detection of molecular signals in phloem sap and their expression in companion cells are presented.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Plant Cell Biology Research Group, Institute of General Botany, Senckenbergstrasse 17, 35390 Giessen, and Institute of Phytopathology, IFZ, Heinrich-Buff-Ring 26–32, 35392 Giessen, Justus Liebig University, Giessen, Germany

Publication date: 2004-09-01

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