Missing link in plant immunity identified

March 12, 2014
This is Cyril Zipfel (L) and Yasuhiro Kadota (R) from The Sainsbury Laboratory. Credit: The Sainsbury Laboratory

After a 30-year search, scientists have uncovered how an enzyme critical to plants' rapid immune response against microbes is activated.

"The insights will open up new ways to improve and in plants," says Professor Cyril Zipfel of The Sainsbury Laboratory in Norwich.

The , the NAPDH oxidase RBOHD, triggers a rapid generation of signalling molecules derived from oxygen that are believed to be detrimental to microbial growth. The newly-discovered way this enzyme is activated, by a protein (called BIK1) fills a gap in how plants perceive a threat and how signals are activated to trigger an .

The work, published in the journal Molecular Cell, was conducted by scientists from The Sainsbury Laboratory and from RIKEN in Yokohama in Japan, whose focus on the interactions between plants and microbes can spark innovation in tackling the world's most important crop diseases.

"Understanding how this enzyme was rapidly activated was an important missing link in our knowledge of plant immunity," says Professor Zipfel.

The scientists revealed that the enzyme is regulated by processes some of which are dependent on calcium and some of which are independent of it.

"Our findings lay the ground for future research investigating how these processes interact and how they switch on and off the molecules essential to defence and stress responses."

Explore further: New defenses deployed against plant diseases

Related Stories

New defenses deployed against plant diseases

March 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 provides ...

Mechanistic insights into Old English plants

July 10, 2012

Often lacking in natural product drug discovery are ‘mechanistic insights’; that is, insights into the events at the molecular level that are behind any effects that plant compounds have on cells or organisms. With ...

Sniffed out: The 'gas detectors' of the plant world

January 23, 2014

The elusive trigger that allows plants to 'see' the gas nitric oxide (NO), an important signalling molecule, has been tracked down by scientists at The University of Nottingham. It is the first time that a central mechanism ...

Sussex fungicides may help fight ash dieback

January 29, 2014

A new fungicide treatment developed at the University of Sussex is emerging as a weapon in the fight to inhibit growth of Chalara fraxinea, which causes ash dieback, according to initial trials at The Sainsbury Laboratory.

Recommended for you

Herbicides can't stop invasive plants. Can bugs?

August 31, 2016

Over the past 35 years, state and federal agencies have spent millions of dollars and dumped untold quantities of herbicides into waterways trying to control the invasive water chestnut plant, but the intruder just keeps ...

Smarter brains are blood-thirsty brains

August 30, 2016

A University of Adelaide-led project has overturned the theory that the evolution of human intelligence was simply related to the size of the brain—but rather linked more closely to the supply of blood to the brain.

Defend or grow? These plants do both

August 30, 2016

From natural ecosystems to farmers' fields, plants face a dilemma of energy use: outgrow and outcompete their neighbors for light, or defend themselves against insects and disease.

0 comments

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.