New findings could help protect crops from disease
Discovery of how plants detect pathogens could be a major boost for agriculture
And so this study takes Flor’s hypothesis much further, confirming the theory though experiments and providing an unprecedented level of detail on the process by which plants fight off disease at the molecular level. Published in eLife, the research looks at the activity of proteins in rice and their interaction with a fungal infection called ‘rice blast’ that causes devastating disease in rice crops. The group discovered how a specific sensor protein called Pik binds with another protein called AVR-Pik inside rice blast fungus, thus producing resistance to the disease.
Dr Abbas Maqbool (John Innes Centre) was first author of the study. He comments: “Harold Flor predicted that plant sensors discriminate between different pathogen types, but at the time he had no knowledge of the molecules involved. It is remarkable that his ideas have now crystallised into detailed molecular models.”