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Newly discovered plant immune response mechanism reveals how crops battle deadly pathogens

| April 8, 2019

Although separated by more than one billion years of evolution, plants and animals have hit upon similar immune strategies to protect themselves against pathogens. One important mechanism is defined by cytoplasmic receptors called NLRs that, in plants, recognize so-called effectors, molecules that invading microorganisms secrete into the plant’s cells.

These recognition events can either involve direct recognition of effectors by NLRs or indirect recognition, in which the NLRs act as ‘guards’ that monitor additional host proteins or ‘guardees’ that are modified by effectors. Host recognition of effectors, whether direct or indirect, results in cell death to confine microbes to the site of infection.

In two new studies published in the journal Science, Jijie Chai who is affiliated with Tsinghua University in Beijing as well as the University of Cologne and the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research together with the groups of Hong-Wei Zhang and Jian-Min Zhou at Tsinghua University and the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing have now pieced together the sequence of molecular events that convert inactive NLR molecules into active complexes that provide disease resistance.

Read full, original article: Ready, steady, go: Steps in plant immune receptor activation

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