Malinovsky FG, Thomsen MF, Nintemann SJ, Jagd LM, Bourgine B, Burow M, Kliebenstein DJ (2017) An evolutionary young defense metabolite influences the root growth of plants via the ancient TOR signaling pathway. eLife 6:e29353.
To optimize fitness a plant should monitor its metabolism to appropriately control growth and defense. Primary metabolism can be measured by the universally conserved TOR (Target of Rapamycin) pathway to balance growth and development with the available energy and nutrients. Recent work suggests that plants may measure defense metabolites to potentially provide a strategy ensuring fast reallocation of resources to coordinate plant growth and defense. There is little understanding of mechanisms enabling defense metabolite signaling. To identify mechanisms of defense metabolite signaling, we used glucosinolates, an important class of plant defense metabolites. We report novel signaling properties specific to one distinct glucosinolate, 3-hydroxypropylglucosinolate across plants and fungi. This defense metabolite, or derived compounds, reversibly inhibits root growth and development. 3-hydroxypropylglucosinolate signaling functions via genes in the ancient TOR pathway. If this event is not unique, this raises the possibility that other evolutionarily new plant metabolites may link to ancient signaling pathways.