Conferring drought resistant traits to crops is one of the major aims of current breeding programs in response to global climate changes. We previously showed that exogenous application of acetic acid to roots of various plants could induce increased survivability under subsequent drought stress conditions, but details of the metabolism of exogenously applied acetic acid, and the nature of signals induced by its application, have not been unveiled. In this study, we show that rice rapidly induces jasmonate signaling upon application of acetic acid, resulting in physiological changes similar to those seen under drought. The major metabolite of the exogenously applied acetic acid in xylem sap was determined as glutamine—a common and abundant component of xylem sap—indicating that acetic acid is not the direct agent inducing the observed physiological responses in shoots. Expression of drought-responsive genes in shoot under subsequent drought conditions was attenuated by acetic acid treatment. These data suggest that acetic acid activates root-to-shoot jasmonate signals that partially overlap with those induced by drought, thereby conferring an acclimated state on shoots prior to subsequent drought.
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