‘Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus’ Encodes a Functional Salicylic Acid (SA) Hydroxylase That Degrades SA to Suppress Plant Defenses

Li et al. (2017). Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions® 30 (8)
Names (1)
Ca. Liberibacter asiaticus
Agronomy and Crop Science General Medicine Physiology
Pathogens from the fastidious, phloem-restricted ‘Candidatus Liberibacter’ species cause the devastating Huanglongbing (HLB) disease in citrus worldwide and cause diseases on many solanaceous crops and plants in the Apiaceae family. However, little is known about the pathogenic mechanisms due to the difficulty in culturing the corresponding ‘Ca. Liberibacter’ species. Here, we report that the citrus HLB pathogen ‘Ca. L. asiaticus’ uses an active salicylate hydroxylase SahA to degrade salicylic acid (SA) and suppress plant defenses. Purified SahA protein displays strong enzymatic activity to degrade SA and its derivatives. Overexpression of SahA in transgenic tobacco plants abolishes SA accumulation and hypersensitive response (HR) induced by nonhost pathogen infection. By degrading SA, ‘Ca. L. asiaticus’ not only enhances the susceptibility of citrus plants to both nonpathogenic and pathogenic Xanthomonas citri but also attenuates the responses of citrus plants to exogenous SA. In addition, foliar spraying of 2,1,3-benzothiadiazole and 2,6-dichloroisonicotinic acid, SA functional analogs not degradable by SahA, displays comparable (and even better) effectiveness with SA in suppressing ‘Ca. L. asiaticus’ population growth and HLB disease progression in infected citrus trees under field conditions. This study demonstrates one or more pathogens suppress plant defenses by degrading SA and establish clues for developing novel SA derivatives-based management approaches to control the associated plant diseases.
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