Plant Biology
Plant Biology
To match human population growth, world agricultural production must double over the next quarter century. At Salk, we study plants so that humans will have the food, clothing, energy and medicines they need now and in the future.

Self Defense for Plants

When you see brown spots on otherwise healthy green leaves, you may be witnessing a plant’s immune response as it tries to keep a bacterial infection from spreading. Some plants are more resistant to such infections than others. To explore why, Salk scientists Joanne Chory and co–first authors Marco Bürger and Björn Willige studied a plant protein called SOBER1, which had previously been probed in relation to infection, and discovered that, counterintuitively, SOBER1 rendered plants less resistant to infection. The work, which appeared in Nature Communications on December 29, 2017, sheds light on plant resistance generally and could lead to strategies to boost plants’ natural immunity or to better contain infections that threaten to destroy an entire agricultural crop.

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