Washington State University researchers have discovered the way plants respond to disease-causing organisms, and how they protect themselves, leading the way to potential breakthroughs in breeding resistance to diseases or pests.
The results were published in the journal Plant Physiology and describe how plants respond to a molecule released during damage caused by infection or outside entities. The paper shows how adenosine 5-triphospate (ATP), a part of DNA and energy production in cells, becomes a signal for injury or infection when outside cells. That signal triggers defense responses in plants.
“We found the pathways that connect ATP to plant cell responses protecting the plant,” said David Gang, WSU professor in the Institute of Biological Chemistry.
“This is a blueprint for how a plant’s immune system works,” [said WSU Plant Pathology assistant professor Kiwamu Tanaka]. “In some respects, even the most innovative breeding programs are still groping around in the dark to build resistance. But if you have the blueprint, you can reach the goal much faster.”
“Future plant breeding can now increase plant defense or resistance based on knowing these pathways,” Gang said. “They can be bred to respond faster, or to not waste energy by turning on the entire immune system if only a specific defense is required. The potential for this is pretty incredible for helping plants and crops.”
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