Upon pathogen perception plant innate immune receptors activate various signaling pathways that trigger host defenses. PAMP-triggered defense signaling requires mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathways, which modulate the activity of transcription factors through phosphorylation. Here, we highlight that the same transcription factors are also targets for conjugation by SUMO (Small ubiquitin-like modifier). SUMO conjugation determines recruitment and activity of chromatin-modifying enzymes, and thereby indirectly controls gene expression. SUMO conjugation is essential to suppress defense signaling in non-infected plants. Resistance protein signaling and SUMO conjugation also converge at transcription complexes. For example, the TIR-NB-LRR protein SNC1 interacts with histone deacetylase HDA19 and the transcriptional co-repressor Topless-related 1; both are SUMO targets. We present a model in which SUMO conjugation can transform transcription activators into repressors, thereby preventing defense induction in the absence of a pathogen.