ATAF1 is a member of a largely uncharacterized plant-specific gene family encoding NAC transcription factors, and is induced in response to various abiotic and biotic stimuli in Arabidopsis thaliana. Previously, we showed that a mutant allele of ATAF1 compromises penetration resistance in Arabidopsis with respect to the non-host biotrophic pathogen Blumeria graminis f. sp. hordei (Bgh). In this study, we have used genome-wide transcript profiling to characterize signalling perturbations in ataf1 plants following Bgh inoculation. Comparative transcriptomic analyses identified an over-representation of abscisic acid (ABA)-responsive genes, including the ABA biosynthesis gene AAO3, which is significantly induced in ataf1 plants compared to wild-type plants following inoculation with Bgh. Additionally, we show that Bgh inoculation results in decreased endogenous ABA levels in an ATAF1-dependent manner, and that the ABA biosynthetic mutant aao3 showed increased penetration resistance to Bgh compared to wild-type plants. Furthermore, we show that ataf1 plants show ABA-hyposensitive phenotypes during seedling development and germination. Our data support a negative correlation between ABA levels and penetration resistance, and identify ATAF1 as a new stimuli-dependent attenuator of ABA signalling for the mediation of efficient penetration resistance in Arabidopsis upon Bgh attack.
Jensen, M. K., Hagedorn, P., De Torres-Zabala, M., Grant, M. R., Rung, J. H., Collinge, D. B., & Lyngkjær, M. F. (2008). Transcriptional regulation by an NAC (NAM-ATAF1,2-CUC2) transcription factor attenuates ABA signalling for efficient basal defence towards Blumeria graminis f. sp hordei in Arabidopsis. Plant Journal, 56(6), 867-880. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-313X.2008.03646.x