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Mol Plant Microbe Interact. 2000 Jun;13(6):637-48.

Plants secrete substances that mimic bacterial N-acyl homoserine lactone signal activities and affect population density-dependent behaviors in associated bacteria.

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Horticulture and Crop Science Department, Ohio State University, Columbus 43210, USA.


In gram-negative bacteria, many important changes in gene expression and behavior are regulated in a population density-dependent fashion by N-acyl homoserine lactone (AHL) signal molecules. Exudates from pea (Pisum sativum) seedlings were found to contain several separable activities that mimicked AHL signals in well-characterized bacterial reporter strains, stimulating AHL-regulated behaviors in some strains while inhibiting such behaviors in others. The chemical nature of the active mimic compounds is currently unknown, but all extracted differently into organic solvents than common bacterial AHLs. Various species of higher plants in addition to pea were found to secrete AHL mimic activities. The AHL signal-mimic compounds could prove to be important in determining the outcome of interactions between higher plants and a diversity of pathogenic, symbiotic, and saprophytic bacteria.

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