Crop Biotech Update

Researchers Discover How Plants Respond to Attacks

August 1, 2018

Scientists from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) collaborating with colleagues from Imperial College London and The Sainsbury Laboratory have learned more about how plants defend themselves.

The plant cell wall protects them against various threats. When the cell wall is damaged, the plant tries to minimize the damage and repairs it so the plant is restored to its normal state. Plants respond differently depending on the danger threatening it.

The researchers, led by NTNU Associate Professor Thorsten Hamann exposed thale cress to various injuries to see how the plants would react. They disconnected 27 different genes to observe the effects. Five of the genes were important in maintaining the equilibrium of the cell walls. The experiments provided a basis for identifying multiple enzymes (kinases) and channel proteins involved in the plant's defense mechanisms. A number of genes are involved in producing these substances.

The team's most interesting finding seems to be that two defense systems can act as a kind of backup for each other. Hamann said that when they blocked the plants' immune response, the mechanisms that maintain balance in the cell walls partially compensate for the blockage, and became a kind of reserve defense system.

For more details, read the article in Gemini.