The plant hormone salicylic acid (SA) plays an essential role in the regulation of diverse biological processes throughout the entire lifespan of the plant. Twenty-five years ago, SA first emerged as an endogenous signal capable of inducing plant defence responses both at the site of infection and in the systemic tissue of the plant. Since then, SA-mediated signalling pathways have been extensively characterized and dissected using genetic and biochemical approaches. Current research is largely focused on the identification of novel SA downstream signalling genes, in order to understand their precise contributions to the phytohormonal cross-talk and signalling network. This will subsequently help us to identify novel targets that are important for plant health, and contribute to advances in modern agriculture. In this chapter we highlight recent advances in the field of SA biosynthesis and the discovery of candidates for systemic mobile signals. We also discuss the molecular mechanisms underlying SA perception. In addition, we review the novel SA signalling components that expand the scope of SA functions beyond plant immunity to include plant growth and development, endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress, DNA repair and homologous recombination. Finally, we shed light on the roles of SA in epigenetically controlled transgenerational immune memory that has long-term benefits for plants.

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