New details on how plants perceive and respond to disease

Published on 16 March 2023

Research from the University of Dundee has discovered new details on how plants perceive and then respond to disease causing microbes. This work has been published in the journal Current Biology.

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From left - Dr Charlotte Hurst and Dr Piers Hemsley in glasshouse with N. benthamiana plants

Dr Piers Hemsley, Principal Investigator in both the Division of Plant Sciences at the University of Dundee School of Life Sciences and Cell and Molecular Sciences at the James Hutton Institute said, “This work investigates a new mechanism regulating how plants perceive their environment, specifically pathogenic microbes. We found that the addition of fatty acids (S-acylation) to either the FLS2 or EFR receptor is required to form a stable and long-lasting signalling complex following perception of bacteria to promote immunity against bacterial pathogens.”

“This fundamental work adds to knowledge of how plant perception of the environment works. It helps in understanding how best to manage the necessary energetic tradeoffs between our desire to maximise plant yield (“growth”) and the need to have plant resistance against pathogens (“defence”). This information is critical to translating our results into crops such as cereals and potato to improve resistance to pathogens and influence how crop plants interact with, and respond to, their environment.”

The work undertaken at the University of Dundee (Dr Charlotte Hurst, Dr Dionne Turnbull, Miss Sally Myles, Dr Piers Hemsley) was funded by BBSRC, BBSRC EastBIO DTP and Royal Society. Collaborators working at University of Zurich, University of Tübingen, Technical University of Munich, James Hutton Institute and The Sainsbury Laboratory were funded by RESAS, EMBO, DFG, Gatsby Charitable Foundation, and the European Research Council (ERC).

Read the work on ScienceDirect website.

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