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Crop Biotech Update

Touch Activates Plant's Insect Defenses

April 13, 2012

Rice University scientists revealed that plant use sense of touch to combat biotic stresses like pathogens and pests. In an earlier study conducted by E. Wassim Chehab and colleagues, they developed a genetically modified plant that glowed whenever it is touched. They also found that regularly touched Arabidopsis plants grew shorter and slower than the controls.

In their new study, they showed that the plant hormone jasmonate mediates the growth response in Arabidopsis. The plants that were repeatedly touched maintained high levels of jasmonate and thus exhibited better insect and fungal tolerance. When they removed the genes responsible for jasmonate production, the plants were unable to grow shorter and slower when frequently touched.

Subscribers of Current Biology journal may access the article at http://www.cell.com/current-biology/abstract/S0960-9822%2812%2900248-5.