Plant Immunity Strategies Against Microbial Pathogen Infection



Carmen Castresana

Group Leader



Research summary

We aim to define the role of oxylipins in protecting plants against pathogen infection  and to dissect the signalling pathways mediating their actions. During this period we undertook a genetic approach to investigate the signalling processes regulated by 9-HOT, a 9-LOX-derivative that induces production of callose deposits, initiation of oxidative stress and transcriptional changes of defence-related genes. A lox1 lox5 mutant, which is deficient in 9-LOX activity, and the mutant noxy22 (non-responding to oxylipins22), which is insensitive to 9-HOT, were used for this purpose. Map-based cloning positioned the noxy22 mutation at the ETO1 (ETHYLENE-OVERPRODUCER1) locus with constitutive ethylene (ET) production.



Machado L, Castro A, Hamberg M, Bannenberg G, Gaggero C, Castresana C, Ponce de Leon I. The Physcomitrella patens unique alpha-dixoygenase participates in both developmental processes and defense responses. BMC Plant Biol 2015; 15:45

Ponce de León I, Hamberg M, Castresana C. Oxylipins in moss development and defense. Front Plant Sci 2015; 6:483

Marcos R, Izquierdo Y, Vellosillo T, Kulasekaran S, Cascón T, Hamberg M, Castresana C. 9-Lipoxygensases-derived oxylipins activate brassinoesteroid signaling to promote cell wall-based defense and limit pathogen infection. Plant Physiol 2015; 169(3):2324-34

Vellosillo T, Aguilera V, Marcos R, Bartsch M, Vicente J, Cascón T, Hamberg M, Castresana C. Defense activated by 9-lipoxygenase-derived oxylipins requires specific mitochondrial proteins. Plant Physiol 2013; 161:617-627.

Coego A, Brizuela E, Castillejo P, Ruíz S, Koncz C, Del Pozo JC, Jarillo JA, Paz-Ares J, León J, The TRANSPLANTA Consortium. The TRANSPLANTA Collection of Arabidopsis Lines: A resource for Functional Analysis if Transcription Factors based on their conditional overexpression. Plant J 2014; 6:944-953


Figure 1Plant oxylipins are a class of lipid signals involved in regulating plant development and immunity. Recent studies demonstrate the importance of the 9-LOX and alpha-DOX oxylipin pathways in the defence mechanisms activated by Arabidopsis following infection by hemibiotrophic bacteria; these oxylipin pathways participate in the three layers of defence (pre-invasion, apoplastic and systemic) triggered by plants to prevent Pseudomonas syringae pv tomato DC3000 infection. Our studies also showed high 9-LOX and alpha-DOX levels activity in roots of untreated Arabidopsis plants and participation of the 9-LOX pathway in the defence mechanisms against the root pathogen Fusarium oxysporum. In these responses, oxylipins were found to act as regulators of oxidative stress, lipid peroxidation, hormone homeostasis and cell wall integrity. Characterisation of a series of noxy mutants (non-responding to oxylipins) insensitive to the 9-LOX products 9-hydroxyoctadecatrienoic acid (9-HOT) and 9-ketooctadecatrienoic acid (9-KOT) provided further support for the role of the 9-LOX pathway in plant defence and in signalling cell wall damage. We found that the defensive responses and cell wall modifications caused by 9-LOX products are under mitochondrial retrograde control and that mitochondria have a fundamental role in innate immunity signalling. Additional experiments with mutants defective in brassinosteroids (BR), a class of plant hormones necessary for normal plant growth and cell wall integrity, showed that 9-LOX-derived oxylipins activate cell wall-based defence responses such as callose deposition by inducing BR synthesis and signalling. Studies with antioxidants showed that oxylipin-dependent activation of BR signalling is limited by the lipophilic antioxidant trolox, which indicated that lipid peroxidation helps trigger BR signalling. These results show interaction between the 9-LOX and BR pathways and point to participation of both oxylipins and brassinosteroids as part of the plant response involved in controlling cell wall-based plant defence. The results of these studies support our interest in examining the action of 9-LOX and alpha-DOX oxylipins in plant defence, whose understanding will help to develop new strategies for disease control in crop plants, a major limiting factor in reducing agricultural productivity.

  Figure 2


Carmen Castresana Principal investigator
Veronica Aguilera Postdoctoral scientist
Ruth Marcos Postdoctoral scientist
Yovanny Izquierdo Predoctoral scientist
Ruben Fernández Predoctoral scientist
Tomas Cascón Technician

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