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Trends Plant Sci. 2009 Jul;14(7):356-63. doi: 10.1016/j.tplants.2009.04.002. Epub 2009 Jun 17.

Damaged-self recognition in plant herbivore defence.

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Departamento de Ingeniería Genética. CINVESTAV-Irapuato, Km. 9.6 Libramiento Norte, Irapuato, Guanajuato, México.


Feeding by herbivores induces plant defences, but we still do not know all the signals that mediate this response. Here, I argue that a general principle in this mediation is 'damaged-self recognition', that is, the perception of motifs by the plant that indicate disintegrated plant cells. Most defence-inducing molecules are (or contain) plant-derived motifs or disintegrate plant cells and thereby release defence elicitors. By perceiving the 'damaged self', plants can retain evolutionary control over their interactions with herbivores rather than allowing herbivores to dominate the interaction. The concept of 'damaged-self recognition' provides a paradigm for plant responses to herbivory and helps the search for the currently unknown elicitors of those defence responses, which have so far only been described at the phenotypic level.

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