Researchers at the University of Queensland in Australia said the international team's unique findings describe how a pair of plant proteins fights back.
Simon Williams from UQ's School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences said, "When these proteins are disturbed by an infection, the infected cell dies allowing for the immunity of the entire plant."
"In this remarkable process the entire plant becomes immune at the expense of few noble cells. We detail how plant protein immune receptors regulate each other and coordinate a response when threatened by infection," Williams said.
Research leader Bostjan Kobe said while many plant resistance genes have been identified in the past two decades, scientists have limited knowledge of how they work.
"It is vitally important that we understand how plant immune systems function because pre-harvest plant diseases account for up to 15 per cent of crop loss every year," Kobe said, adding that, "This is a significant economic and environmental challenge for a world already under pressure to produce more food, fibre and biofuels."
"The study could also fuel future research in human health, as there is significant overlap between the mechanisms that plants and humans use to detect and respond to disease.
"To help our understanding of the plant interactions we used x-ray crystallography techniques to determine the protein structures," Kobe said.


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