- A new family of synthetic, membrane-active, ultrashort lipopeptides composed of only four amino acids linked to fatty acids was tested for the ability to induce systemic resistance and defense responses in plants. We found that two peptides wherein the third residue is a d-enantiomer (italic), C16-KKKK and C16-KLLK, can induce medium alkalinization of tobacco suspension-cultured cells and expression of defense-related genes in cucumber and Arabidopsis seedlings. Moreover, these compounds can prime systemic induction of antimicrobial compounds in cucumber leaves similarly to the plant-beneficial fungus Trichoderma asperellum T203 and provide systemic protection against the phytopathogens Botrytis cinerea B05, Pseudomonas syringae pv. lachrimans, and P. syringae pv. tomato DC3000. Thus, short cationic lipopeptides are a new category of compounds with potentially high utility in the induction of systemic resistance in plants.