The shikimate pathway regulates programmed cell death.
Programmed cell death (PCD) is essential for both plant development and stress responses including immunity. However, how plants control PCD is not well-understood. The shikimate pathway is one of the most important metabolic pathways in plants, but its relationship to PCD is unknown. Here, we show that the shikimate pathway promotes PCD in Arabidopsis. We identify a photoperiod-dependent lesion-mimic mutant named lis, which forms spontaneous lesions in short-day conditions. Map-based cloning and whole-genome resequencing reveal that LIS encodes MEE32, a bifunctional enzyme in the shikimate pathway. Metabolic analysis shows that the level of shikimate is dramatically increased in lis. Through genetic screenings, three suppressors of lis (slis) are identified and the causal genes are cloned. SLISes encode proteins upstream of MEE32 in the shikimate pathway. Furthermore, exogenous shikimate treatment causes PCD. Our study uncovers a link between the shikimate pathway and PCD, and suggests that the accumulation of shikimate is an alternative explanation for the action of glyphosate, the most successful herbicide.