Plants choose growth over defence

London, Jan 2 : What do plants decide when faced with a major dilemma - to grow or to defend?

As plants look at channelising their energies, they choose growth over defence against pathogens.

"A key protein, BZR1, is responsible for rapidly tipping the balance in favour of growth and ignoring pathogen attack when it is a matter of life and death. This is the case when a seed germinates in the soil, for example," said professor Cyril Zipfel from The Sainsbury Laboratory (TSL) located on the Norwich Research Park (NRP) in Britain.

Plants use steroid hormones to choose growth over defence when their survival depends on it. These findings could be used in breeding crops that combine size with pathogen resistance, Zipfel added.

"Knowing how this is controlled, adds a powerful tool in our ability to breed disease resistant plants with maximum yield," said the study published in the scientific journal eLife.

"Light is essential for plant's survival and the number one priority for a seedling is to reach sunlight. Investing limited resources in fighting back a pathogen could have lethal consequences," concluded Rosa Lozano-Duran, first author of the study from TSL.

--IANS (Posted on 02-01-2014)

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