Researchers from the University of California San Diego have detected
the first key biological receptor that serves as an alarm in plants that
triggers when herbivores attack them. This receptor functions like the
immune system of humans to counter viruses in the body. The results were
published in the/Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences./
Scientists have known that plants protect themselves from the damages
brought about by hungry caterpillars and herbivores. The plant's
biological mechanism for countering this natural phenomenon has captured
the interest of plant biologists for decades to help them develop new
strategies for improved plant health.
The researchers used forward genetics to pinpoint genetic variants that
led them to the discovery of the inceptin receptor (INR) in bean plants.
INR senses conserved plant protein fragments that are accidentally
released by caterpillars as digestive products during munching thereby
The discovery of INR in beans raises interest in discovering other
potential receptors to boost defenses in essential agricultural crops.
"Our work provides some of the earliest defined mechanistic insights
into the question of how plants recognize different attacking herbivores
and activate immunity to animals. It is a fundamental question in
biology that has been pursued for 30 years," said Eric Schmelz of UC San
Diego's Division of Biological Sciences.
Researchers Reveal Switch Used in Plant Defense Against Animal Attack