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Trends Plant Sci. 2008 Jun;13(6):264-72. doi: 10.1016/j.tplants.2008.03.005. Epub 2008 May 17.

Long-distance signalling in plant defence.

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Dpto. de Ingeniería Genética, CINVESTAV--Irapuato, Km. 9.6 Libramiento Norte, CP 36821, Irapuato, Guanajuato, México.


Plants use inducible defence mechanisms to fend off harmful organisms. Resistance that is induced in response to local attack is often expressed systemically, that is, in organs that are not yet damaged. In the search for translocated defence signals, biochemical studies follow the physical movement of putative signals, and grafting experiments use mutants that are impaired in the production or perception of these signals. Long-distance signals can directly activate defence or can prime for the stronger and faster induction of defence. Historically, research has focused on the vascular transport of signalling metabolites, but volatiles can play a crucial role as well. We compare the advantages and constraints of vascular and airborne signals for the plant, and discuss how they can act in synergy to achieve optimised resistance in distal plant parts.

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