BIOLOGICAL ROLE OF PRECURSORS AND METABOLITES OF SALICYLIC ACID
Biotech Center, Cook College, Rutgers University, New
Brunswick, NJ 08901-8520, USA
Salicylic acid (SA), a close relative of aspirin, is a likely natural inducer of disease resistance in plants. SA acts by stimulating local and systemic accumulation of defense-related proteins that are responsible for the increased disease resistance throughout the plant.
The biosynthesis, metabolism, and mechanism of action of SA in plants is partially characterized. Benzoic acid serves as a precursor for SA acid. Methyl salicylate (MeSA) is a major volatile metabolite of SA produced by pathogen-inoculated parts of the plants. MeSA may function as an airborne signal which activates disease resistance in neighboring plants and in healthy tissues of the infected plant. Understanding the molecular mechanisms of plant defenses against pathogens provides a novel, environmentally safe strategy for growing healthier crops without toxic pesticides.