Additive and specific effects of elicitor treatments on the metabolic profile of Arabidopsis thaliana

Several elicitors of plant defense have been identified and numerous efforts to use them in the field have been made. Exogenous elicitor treatments mimic the in-planta activation of pattern-triggered immunity (PTI), which relies on the perception of pathogen-associated molecular patterns (PAMPs) such as bacterial flg22 or fungal chitins. Early transcriptional responses to distinct PAMPs are mostly overlapping, regardless of the elicitor being used. However, it remains poorly known if the same patterns are observed for metabolites and proteins produced later during PTI. In addition, little is known about the impact of a combination of elicitors on PTI and the level of induced resistance to pathogens. Here, we monitored Arabidopsis thaliana resistance to the bacterial pathogen Pseudomonas syringae pv. tomato DC3000 (Pto DC3000) following application of flg22 and chitosan elicitors, used individually or in combination. A slight, but not statistically significant increase in induced resistance was observed when the elicitors were applied together when compared to individual treatments. We investigated the effect of these treatments on the metabolome by using an untargeted analysis. We found that the combination of flg22 and chitosan impacted a higher number of metabolites and deregulated specific metabolic pathways, than the elicitors individually. These results contribute to a better understanding of plant responses to elicitors, which might help better rationalize their use in the field.