Constitutively elevated salicylic acid levels alter photosynthesis and oxidative state but not growth in transgenic Populus

Liang Jiao Xue, Wenbing Guo, Yinan Yuan, Edward O. Anino, Batbayar Nyamdari, Mark C. Wilson, Christopher J. Frost, Han Yi Chen, Benjamin A. Babst, Scott A. Harding, Chung Jui Tsai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


Salicylic acid (SA) has long been implicated in plant responses to oxidative stress. SA overproduction in Arabidopsis thaliana leads to dwarfism, making in planta assessment of SA effects difficult in this model system. We report that transgenic Populus tremula × alba expressing a bacterial SA synthase hyperaccumulated SA and SA conjugates without negative growth consequences. In the absence of stress, endogenously elevated SA elicited widespread metabolic and transcriptional changes that resembled those of wild-type plants exposed to oxidative stress-promoting heat treatments. Potential signaling and oxidative stress markers azelaic and gluconic acids as well as antioxidant chlorogenic acids were strongly coregulated with SA, while soluble sugars and other phenylpropanoids were inversely correlated. Photosynthetic responses to heat were attenuated in SA-overproducing plants. Network analysis identified potential drivers of SA-mediated transcriptome rewiring, including receptor-like kinases and WRKY transcription factors. Orthologs of Arabidopsis SA signaling components NONEXPRESSOR OF PATHOGENESIS-RELATED GENES1 and thioredoxins were not represented. However, all members of the expanded Populus nucleoredoxin-1 family exhibited increased expression and increased network connectivity in SA-overproducing Populus, suggesting a previously undescribed role in SA-mediated redox regulation. The SA response in Populus involved a reprogramming of carbon uptake and partitioning during stress that is compatible with constitutive chemical defense and sustained growth, contrasting with the SA response in Arabidopsis, which is transient and compromises growth if sustained.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2714-2730
Number of pages17
JournalPlant Cell
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2013
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Plant Science


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