Dual role of auxin in regulating plant defense and bacterial virulence gene expression during pseudomonas syringae PtoDC3000 pathogenesis

Arnaud T. Djami-Tchatchou, Gregory A. Harrison, Chris P. Harper, Renhou Wang, Michael J. Prigge, Mark Estelle, Barbara N. Kunkel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Modification of host hormone biology is a common strategy used by plant pathogens to promote disease. For example, the bacterial pathogen strain Pseudomonas syringae DC3000 (PtoDC3000) produces the plant hormone auxin (indole-3- acetic acid [IAA]) to promote PtoDC3000 growth in plant tissue. Previous studies suggest that auxin may promote PtoDC3000 pathogenesis through multiple mechanisms, including both suppression of salicylic acid (SA)-mediated host defenses and via an unknown mechanism that appears to be independent of SA. To test if host auxin signaling is important during pathogenesis, we took advantage of Arabidopsis thaliana lines impaired in either auxin signaling or perception. We found that disruption of auxin signaling in plants expressing an inducible dominant axr2-1 mutation resulted in decreased bacterial growth and that this phenotype was suppressed by introducing the sid2-2 mutation, which impairs SA synthesis. Thus, host auxin signaling is required for normal susceptibility to PtoDC3000 and is involved in suppressing SA-mediated defenses. Unexpectedly, tir1 afb1 afb4 afb5 quadruple-mutant plants lacking four of the six known auxin coreceptors that exhibit decreased auxin perception, supported increased levels of bacterial growth. This mutant exhibited elevated IAA levels and reduced SA-mediated defenses, providing additional evidence that auxin promotes disease by suppressing host defense. We also investigated the hypothesis that IAA promotes PtoDC3000 virulence through a direct effect on the pathogen and found that IAA modulates expression of virulence genes, both in culture and in planta. Thus, in addition to suppressing host defenses, IAA acts as a microbial signaling molecule that regulates bacterial virulence gene expression.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1059-1071
Number of pages13
JournalMolecular Plant-Microbe Interactions
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2020


  • Auxin signaling
  • Host defense
  • Indole-3-acetic acid
  • Pathogenesis
  • Pseudomonas syringae
  • Virulence gene expression


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