Researchers from Washington State University have discovered the way plants
respond to disease-causing organisms, and how they protect themselves.
Results published in the journal Plant Physiology show how adenosine
5-triphospate (ATP), a part of DNA and energy production in cells, becomes a
signal for injury or infection. That signal triggers defense responses in
David Gang, WSU professor said, "We found the pathways that connect ATP to
plant cell responses protecting the plant." The research team used wild
plants as well as plants with improvements in the major pathways of plant
defense. The scientists would trigger an ATP response in a modified sample
to trace the signal's path to the receptor, then reproduce that in the other
samples. Extra-cellular ATP turns on defense responses, partly through these
major defense pathways, and partly independently of them, but they all work
The receptor that receives the damage signal ATP was found in 2014, but
until now scientists didn't know how this signal caused an immune response
in plants. "Future plant breeding can now increase plant defense or
resistance based on knowing these pathways," Gang said.