Metabolic signals orchestrate plant defenses against microbial pathogen invasion. Here, we report the identification of the non-protein amino acid pipecolic acid (Pip), a common Lys catabolite in plants and animals, as a critical regulator of inducible plant immunity. Following pathogen recognition, Pip accumulates in inoculated Arabidopsis thaliana leaves, in leaves distal from the site of inoculation, and, most specifically, in petiole exudates from inoculated leaves. Defects of mutants in AGD2-LIKE DEFENSE RESPONSE PROTEIN1 (ALD1) in systemic acquired resistance (SAR) and in basal, specific, and β-aminobutyric acid-induced resistance to bacterial infection are associated with a lack of Pip production. Exogenous Pip complements these resistance defects and increases pathogen resistance of wild-type plants. We conclude that Pip accumulation is critical for SAR and local resistance to bacterial pathogens. Our data indicate that biologically induced SAR conditions plants to more effectively synthesize the phytoalexin camalexin, Pip, and salicylic acid and primes plants for early defense gene expression. Biological priming is absent in the pipecolate-deficient ald1 mutants. Exogenous pipecolate induces SAR-related defense priming and partly restores priming responses in ald1. We conclude that Pip orchestrates defense amplification, positive regulation of salicylic acid biosynthesis, and priming to guarantee effective local resistance induction and the establishment of SAR.
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