Academic Appointments

  • Basic Life Research Scientist, Bioengineering

All Publications

  • N-hydroxy-pipecolic acid is a mobile metabolite that induces systemic disease resistance in Arabidopsis PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Chen, Y., Holmes, E. C., Rajniak, J., Kim, J., Tang, S., Fischer, C. R., Mudgett, M., Sattely, E. S. 2018; 115 (21): E4920–E4929


    Systemic acquired resistance (SAR) is a global response in plants induced at the site of infection that leads to long-lasting and broad-spectrum disease resistance at distal, uninfected tissues. Despite the importance of this priming mechanism, the identity and complexity of defense signals that are required to initiate SAR signaling is not well understood. In this paper, we describe a metabolite, N-hydroxy-pipecolic acid (N-OH-Pip) and provide evidence that this mobile molecule plays a role in initiating SAR signal transduction in Arabidopsis thaliana We demonstrate that FLAVIN-DEPENDENT MONOOXYGENASE 1 (FMO1), a key regulator of SAR-associated defense priming, can synthesize N-OH-Pip from pipecolic acid in planta, and exogenously applied N-OH-Pip moves systemically in Arabidopsis and can rescue the SAR-deficiency of fmo1 mutants. We also demonstrate that N-OH-Pip treatment causes systemic changes in the expression of pathogenesis-related genes and metabolic pathways throughout the plant and enhances resistance to a bacterial pathogen. This work provides insight into the chemical nature of a signal for SAR and also suggests that the N-OH-Pip pathway is a promising target for metabolic engineering to enhance disease resistance.

    View details for PubMedID 29735713

  • A new cyanogenic metabolite in Arabidopsis required for inducible pathogen defence. Nature Rajniak, J., Barco, B., Clay, N. K., Sattely, E. S. 2015; 525 (7569): 376-379


    Thousands of putative biosynthetic genes in Arabidopsis thaliana have no known function, which suggests that there are numerous molecules contributing to plant fitness that have not yet been discovered. Prime among these uncharacterized genes are cytochromes P450 upregulated in response to pathogens. Here we start with a single pathogen-induced P450 (ref. 5), CYP82C2, and use a combination of untargeted metabolomics and coexpression analysis to uncover the complete biosynthetic pathway to 4-hydroxyindole-3-carbonyl nitrile (4-OH-ICN), a previously unknown Arabidopsis metabolite. This metabolite harbours cyanogenic functionality that is unprecedented in plants and exceedingly rare in nature; furthermore, the aryl cyanohydrin intermediate in the 4-OH-ICN pathway reveals a latent capacity for cyanogenic glucoside biosynthesis in Arabidopsis. By expressing 4-OH-ICN biosynthetic enzymes in Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Nicotiana benthamiana, we reconstitute the complete pathway in vitro and in vivo and validate the functions of its enzymes. Arabidopsis 4-OH-ICN pathway mutants show increased susceptibility to the bacterial pathogen Pseudomonas syringae, consistent with a role in inducible pathogen defence. Arabidopsis has been the pre-eminent model system for studying the role of small molecules in plant innate immunity; our results uncover a new branch of indole metabolism distinct from the canonical camalexin pathway, and support a role for this pathway in the Arabidopsis defence response. These results establish a more complete framework for understanding how the model plant Arabidopsis uses small molecules in pathogen defence.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/nature14907

    View details for PubMedID 26352477