Genetic differences in barley govern the responsiveness to N-acyl homoserine lactone
Enhanced resistance in barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) against pathogens, such as the powdery mildew-causing fungus Blumeria graminis f.sp. hordei (Bgh), is of high importance. The beneficial effects of bacterial quorum sensing molecules on resistance and plant growth have been shown in different plant species. Here, we present the effects of the N-3-oxotetradecanoyl-L-homoserine lactone (oxo-C14-HSL) on the resistance of different barley genotypes. Genetically diverse accessions of barley were identified and exposed to the beneficial, oxo-C14-HSL-producing bacterium Ensifer meliloti or the pure N-acyl homoserine lactone (AHL) molecule. Metabolic profiling along with expression analysis of selected genes and physiological assays revealed that the capacity to react varies among different barley genotypes. We demonstrate that upon pretreatment with AHL molecule, AHL-primable barley genotype expresses enhanced resistance against Bgh. We further show that pretreatment with AHL correlates with stronger activation of barley MAP kinases and regulation of defense-related PR1 and PR17b genes after a subsequent treatment with chitin. Noticeable was the stronger accumulation of lignin. Our results suggest that appropriate genetic background is required for AHL-induced priming. At the same time, they bear potential to use these genetic features for new breeding and plant protection approaches.