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Crop Biotech Update

Research Discovers How Plants "Turn Off" Immune Response after Confronting Pathogens

February 1, 2017

Research conducted at Queen's University in Canada has discovered the previously unknown means by which plants regulate their immune response to pathogens. A study co-authored by Queen's plant biologist Jacqueline Monaghan looked at how plant immune systems work to respond to threats, and how plants regulate their responses to pathogens to avoid negative impacts to their growth and development.

Monaghan and her team found that a group of small peptides called RALFs (Rapid ALkalinization Factors), dampen immune signaling which prevents further response once the infection has been dealt with by the plant's immune system. According to her, immune responses need to be turned off after a threat is eliminated to avoid negative effects on the organism.

The team measured this response by first tracking the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in plants exposed to molecules that elicit an immune response. The plants were also infected with different pathogens and the immune response was tracked. Through genetic tests, the researchers identified a number of genes that are important for these immune responses.

For more details about this study, read the news release from Queen's University.