The use of vitamins including vitamin B1, B2 and K3 for the induction of systemic acquired resistance (SAR) to protect crops against plant pathogens has been evaluated previously. The use of vitamins is beneficial because it is cost effective and safe for the environment. The use of folate precursors, including ortho-aminobenzoic acid, to induce SAR against a soft-rot pathogen in tobacco has been reported previously.
In a recent study published in Annals of Botany, para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA, also referred to as vitamin Bx) was selected owing to its effect on the induction of SAR against Xanthomonas axonopodis pv. vesicatoria in pepper plants through greenhouse screening. Dipping of pepper seedlings in a 1 mM PABA solution in field trials induced SAR against artificially infiltrated X. axonopodis pv. vesicatoria and naturally occurring cucumber mosaic virus. Expression of the Capsicum annuum pathogenesis-related 4 gene was primed in response to pathogen infection as assessed by quantitative real-time PCR. The accumulation of cucumber mosaic virus RNA was reduced in PABA-treated pepper plants at 40 and 105 d post-treatment. Unexpectedly, fruit yield was increased in PABA-treated plants, indicating that PABA-mediated SAR successfully protected pepper plants from infection by bacterial and viral pathogens without significant fitness allocation costs.
This is the first study to demonstrate the effective elicitation of SAR by a folate precursor under field conditions.