The Plant cell

UV-C-irradiated Arabidopsis and tobacco emit volatiles that trigger genomic instability in neighboring plants.

PMID 22028460


We have previously shown that local exposure of plants to stress results in a systemic increase in genome instability. Here, we show that UV-C-irradiated plants produce a volatile signal that triggers an increase in genome instability in neighboring nonirradiated Arabidopsis thaliana plants. This volatile signal is interspecific, as UV-C-irradiated Arabidopsis plants transmit genome destabilization to naive tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum) plants and vice versa. We report that plants exposed to the volatile hormones methyl salicylate (MeSA) or methyl jasmonate (MeJA) exhibit a similar level of genome destabilization as UV-C-irradiated plants. We also found that irradiated Arabidopsis plants produce MeSA and MeJA. The analysis of mutants impaired in the synthesis and/or response to salicylic acid (SA) and/or jasmonic acid showed that at least one other volatile compound besides MeSA and MeJA can communicate interplant genome instability. The NONEXPRESSOR OF PATHOGENESIS-RELATED GENES1 (npr1) mutant, defective in SA signaling, is impaired in both the production and the perception of the volatile signals, demonstrating a key role for NPR1 as a central regulator of genome stability. Finally, various forms of stress resulting in the formation of necrotic lesions also generate a volatile signal that leads to genomic instability.