Cellulose-derived oligomers act as damage-associated molecular patterns and trigger defense-like responses

Clarice de Azevedo Souza, Shundai Li, Andrew Z. Lin, Freddy Boutrot, Guido Grossmann, Cyril Zipfel, Shauna C. Somerville

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

166 Scopus citations


The plant cell wall, often the site of initial encounters between plants and their microbial pathogens, is composed of a complex mixture of cellulose, hemicellulose, and pectin polysaccharides as well as proteins. The concept of damage-associated molecular patterns (DAMPs) was proposed to describe plant elicitors like oligogalacturonides (OGs), which can be derived by the breakdown of the pectin homogalacturon by pectinases. OGs act via many of the same signaling steps as pathogen- or microbe-associated molecular patterns (PAMPs) to elicit defenses and provide protection against pathogens. Given both the complexity of the plant cell wall and the fact that many pathogens secrete a wide range of cell wall-degrading enzymes, we reasoned that the breakdown products of other cell wall polymers may be similarly biologically active as elicitors and may help to reinforce the perception of danger by plant cells. Our results indicate that oligomers derived from cellulose are perceived as signal molecules in Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana), triggering a signaling cascade that shares some similarities to responses to well-known elicitors such as chitooligomers and OGs. However, in contrast to other known PAMPs/DAMPs, cellobiose stimulates neither detectable reactive oxygen species production nor callose deposition. Confirming our idea that both PAMPs and DAMPs are likely to cooccur at infection sites, cotreatments of cellobiose with flg22 or chitooligomers led to synergistic increases in gene expression. Thus, the perception of cellulose-derived oligomers may participate in cell wall integrity surveillance and represents an additional layer of signaling following plant cell wall breakdown during cell wall remodeling or pathogen attack.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2383-2398
Number of pages16
JournalPlant physiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physiology
  • Genetics
  • Plant Science


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