[en] BACKGROUND: Infection of plants by necrotizing pathogens can lead to the rapid and localized induction of a complex set of defense responses resulting in a restriction of pathogen growth and spread. Subsequently, an increase of plant resistance against a broad spectrum of pathogens is observed systemically. This plant immunity is known as Systemic Acquired Resistance. To identify components of the transduction pathway, we cloned and analysed the expression pattern of several mRNAs accumulating in cucumber plants after induction of Systemic Acquired Resistance. RESULTS: We tested on cucumber different compounds known to induce systemic acquired resistance. Among these, BTH (benzo(1,2,3)thiadiazole-7-carbothioic acid S-methyl ester) proved to be very effective. mRNA RT-PCR differential display was used to identify mRNA sequences induced 24 hours after the application of 10 microM BTH to cucumber plants. A cDNA library constructed from cucumber plants sprayed with 10 microM BTH was screened to get corresponding full length cDNAs. Among the identified cDNAs were those coding for a putative ras-related GTP-binding protein, a putative beta-1,4-N-Acetylglucosaminyltranferase III and a putative pathogenesis related protein. The time course of accumulation of the three corresponding mRNAs was analysed by northern blotting in plants treated by BTH or in plants infected by Colletotrichum lagenarium. CONCLUSIONS: The mRNA RT-PCR differential display technique allowed the identification of three genes possibly involved in Systemic Acquired Resistance in cucumber. Pathogenesis-related proteins are known to be involved in plant defence against pathogens. GTP-binding protein and N-acetylglucosaminyltranferase III have been reported to be components of signal transduction pathways in mammals and plants.