To grow or to defend: How plants decide

Jan 01, 2014
This is Dr. Cyril Zipfel and Rosa Lozano-Duran from The Sainsbury Laboratory. Credit: The Sainsbury Laboratory

Scientists have discovered how plants use steroid hormones to choose growth over defence when their survival depends on it.

The findings published in the open-access scientific journal eLife could be used to engineer that combine size with pathogen resistance.

"A major dilemma faced by plants is whether to invest their energy in growth or defending against ," said Professor Cyril Zipfel from The Sainsbury Laboratory.

"Knowing how this is controlled adds a powerful tool in our ability to breed disease resistant plants with maximum yield."

A key protein, BZR1, is responsible for rapidly tipping the balance in favour of growth and ignoring pathogen attack when it is a matter of life and death. This is the case when a seed germinates in the soil, for example.

"Light is essential for plant's survival and the number one priority for a seedling is to reach sunlight," said Dr. Rosa Lozano-Durán, first author of the study from TSL.

"Investing the in fighting back a pathogen could have lethal consequences".

The protein identified controls the activity of genes related to immunity. It is involved in growth mediated by called brassinosteroids, which are common to all . Brassinosteroids are already the focus of studies to breed semi-dwarfed cereal crops. The current study shows that reducing their levels or their activity could have the added benefit of making crops better able to resist disease.

Explore further: Signalling pathway links local and systemic plant immunity

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

New defenses deployed against plant diseases

Mar 14, 2010

An international team led by scientists at the Sainsbury Laboratory in Norwich, UK, have transferred broad spectrum resistance against some important plant diseases across different plant families. This breakthrough ...

Mastermind steroid found in plants

Nov 15, 2010

Scientists have known for some time how important plant steroids called brassinosteroids are for regulating plant growth and development. But until now, they did not know how extensive their reach is. Now researchers, including ...

Lighting up the plant hormone 'command system'

Jul 22, 2012

Light is not only the source of a plant's energy, but also an environmental signal that instructs the growth behavior of plants. As a result, a plant's sensitivity to light is of great interest to scientists and their research ...

Recommended for you

Contamination likely explains 'food genes in blood' claim

21 hours ago

Laboratory contaminants likely explain the results of a recent study claiming that complete genes can pass from foods we eat into our blood, according to a University of Michigan molecular biologist who re-examined ...

Researchers complete genome sequencing of the Jujube tree

Oct 29, 2014

BGI Tech and Hebei Agricultural University jointly announced the complete, high quality sequencing of the Jujube genome. Jujube is the most economically important member of the Rhamnaceae family, and the Jujube genome is ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.