Some cultivars of tobacco are resistant to tobacco mosaic virus (TMV) and synthesize pathogenesis-related (PR) proteins upon infection. In a search for the signal or signals that induce resistance or PR genes, it was found that the endogenous salicylic acid levels in resistant, but not susceptible, cultivars increased at least 20-fold in infected leaves and 5-fold in uninfected leaves after TMV inoculation. Induction of PR1 genes paralleled the rise in salicylic acid levels. Since earlier work has demonstrated that treatment with exogenous salicylic acid induces PR genes and resistance, these findings suggest that salicylic acid functions as the natural transduction signal.
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