The tomato mutant spr1 is defective in systemin perception and the production of a systemic wound signal for defense gene expression


* For correspondence (fax +517 353 9168; e-mail


Wound-induced systemic expression of defensive proteinase inhibitor (PI) genes in tomato plants requires the action of systemin and its precursor protein prosystemin. Although it is well established that systemin induces PI expression through the octadecanoid pathway for jasmonic acid (JA) biosynthesis, relatively little is known about how systemin and JA interact to promote long-distance signaling between damaged and undamaged leaves. Here, this question was addressed by characterizing a systemin-insensitive mutant (spr1) that was previously identified as a suppressor of prosystemin-mediated responses. In contrast to JA biosynthetic or JA signaling mutants that lack both local and systemic PI expression in response to wounding, spr1 plants were deficient mainly in the systemic response. Consistent with this phenotype, spr1 plants exhibited normal PI induction in response to oligosaccharide signals that are thought to play a role in the local wound response. Moreover, spr1 abolished JA accumulation in response to exogenous systemin, and reduced JA accumulation in wounded leaves to approximately 57% of wild-type (WT) levels. Analysis of reciprocal grafts between spr1 and WT plants showed that spr1 impedes systemic PI expression by blocking the production of the long-distance wound signal in damaged leaves, rather than inhibiting the recognition of that signal in systemic undamaged leaves. These experiments suggest that Spr1 is involved in a signaling step that couples systemin perception to activation of the octadecanoid pathway, and that systemin acts at or near the site of wounding (i.e. in rootstock tissues) to increase JA synthesis to a level that is required for the systemic response. It was also demonstrated that spr1 plants are not affected in the local or systemic expression of a subset of rapidly induced wound-response genes, indicating the existence of a systemin-independent pathway for wound signaling.