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Role of phytic acid in plant defence responses

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Low phytic acid (inositol hexakisphosphate, InsP6) plants are being generated because InsP6 is regarded as an anti-nutrient factor and as a cause of eutrophication. However, the importance of InsP6 might be overlooked as it is involved in other plant pathways, including basal defence responses against pathogens. In order to understand the role(s) of inositol polyphosphates in plant defence, I am manipulating critical steps in InsP6 biosynthesis using Arabidopsis thaliana mutants with decreased expression of AtIPK1 (Inositol Pentakisphosphate Kinase) and AtIPS (Inositol Phosphate Synthase). As T-DNA insertion mutants for a third member of the AtIPS gene family, AtIPS3, had not been tested, atips3 mutant plants were challenged with Pseudomonas syringae pv tomato and found to be more susceptible to bacterial infection than wild-type plants. I found that the atips mutants and atipk1 mutant plants were not compromised in exhibiting systemic acquired resistance, while only the atipk1 mutant was impaired in mounting local flg22-induced resistance. This suggested an additional role of InsP6 in local defence responses. When I compared phenotypes elicited by the bacterial flagellin peptide flg22, the atipk1 mutant was similar to the wild-type in the trigger of oxidative bursts, inhibition of seedling growth, and the expression of marker genes. I tested whether an elevation of InsP6 would increase pathogen resistance and surprisingly found that overexpression of AtIPK1 led to a greater susceptibility to bacterial infection. The levels of InsP6 in these plants are currently being tested.

This talk is part of the Plant Sciences Departmental Seminars series.

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