December 17, 2013

Immune system's errand boy

Signalling pathway links local and systemic plant immunity

When plants discover a pathogen, they prepare for system-wide attack so they are ready to fight on all levels. Working with colleagues, Annegret Ross and Yusuke Saijo of the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research in Cologne have discovered that this systemic defence can be triggered by a signalling pathway that reacts to short protein fragments. These are thought to originate when a plant cell is damaged by a pathogen. The signalling pathway introduces a molecular mediator into the plant's vascular system, putting all areas on alert.