The researchers conducted cellular, biochemical, genetic, and transgenic experiments on Arabidopsis, and results show the very first steps of Arabidopsis' immune response to a bacterial infection. In Arabidopsis' cell walls, specialized proteins watch for evidence of invasion and grab the flagellum, a bacterium's swimming appendage, as soon as they detect it. To send a message to the cell nucleus, the proteins use different approaches. According to the study, one approach is to attach a small protein, ubiquitin, to a messenger protein called BIK1. When the signal is relayed to the cell nucleus, the message is deciphered. Reinforcements are sent to the cell wall and beyond.
The rapid signal the team discovered might help monitor the immune response in humans. In agriculture, the discovery could help breed plants with stronger resistance to a broad spectrum of infections.