Systemic acquired resistance is induced by R gene-mediated responses independent of cell death




On infection by pathogens, plants initiate defence responses that are able to curtail infection locally. These responses are mediated either by receptor-like proteins that recognize pathogen-associated molecular patterns or by the protein products of disease resistance (R) genes. At the same time, primary defence responses often result in the generation of signals that induce what is known as systemic acquired resistance (SAR), such that defence responses are enhanced on secondary pathogen challenge in distal tissues. R protein-mediated SAR induction is normally accompanied by a type of programmed cell death known as the hypersensitive response (HR) and, in some instances, cell death alone has been implicated in the induction of SAR. This has raised the question of whether R protein-mediated signalling per se induces SAR or whether SAR is an indirect result of the induction of HR. Using the Rx gene of potato, which confers resistance to Potato Virus X in the absence of cell death, we have shown that the HR is dispensable for R protein-mediated induction of SAR and that Rx-induced SAR is mediated by the same salicylate-dependent pathway induced by other R proteins.