Plant activators are agrochemicals that protect crops from pathogens. They confer durable resistance to a broad range of diseases by activating intrinsic immune mechanisms in plants. To obtain leads regarding useful compounds, we have screened a chemical library using an established method that allows selective identification of immune-priming compounds. Here, we report the characterisation of one of the isolated chemicals, imprimatinC1, and its structural derivative imprimatinC2. ImprimatinC1 functions as a weak analogue of salicylic acid (SA) and activates the expression of defence-related genes. However, it lacks antagonistic activity toward jasmonic acid. Structure-activity relationship analysis suggests that imprimatinC1 and C2 can be metabolised to 4-chlorobenzoic acid and 3,4-chlorobenzoic acid, respectively, to function in Arabidopsis. We also found that imprimatinC1 and C2 and their potential functional metabolites acted as partial agonists of SA. Thus, imprimatinC compounds could be useful tools for dissecting SA-dependent signal transduction pathways.
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