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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. Jul 9, 1996; 93(14): 6986–6991.

A mechanism for inducing plant development: the genesis of a specific inhibitor.


Parasitic strategies are widely distributed in the plant kingdom and frequently involve coupling parasite organogenesis with cues from the host. In Striga asiatica, for example, the cues that initiate the development of the host attachment organ, the haustorium, originate in the host and trigger the transition from vegetative to parasitic mode in the root meristem. This system therefore offers a unique opportunity to study the signals and mechanisms that control plant cell morphogenesis. Here we establish that the biological activity of structural analogs of the natural inducer displays a marked dependence on redox potential and suggest the existence of a semiquinone intermediate. Building on chemistry that exploits the energetics of such an intermediate, cyclopropyl-p-benzoquinone (CPBQ) is shown to be a specific inhibitor of haustorial development. These data are consistent with a model where haustorial development is initiated by the completion of a redox circuit.

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Selected References

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