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Trends Plant Sci. 2011 Jul;16(7):388-94. doi: 10.1016/j.tplants.2011.03.003. Epub 2011 Apr 5.

Cytokinins and plant immunity: old foes or new friends?

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Department of Life Sciences, Pohang University of Science and Technology, Korea.


Cytokinins are plant growth promoting hormones involved in the specification of embryonic cells, maintenance of meristematic cells, shoot formation and development of vasculature. Cytokinins have also emerged as a major factor in plant-microbe interactions during nodule organogenesis and pathogenesis. Microbe-originated cytokinins confer abnormal hypersensitivity of cytokinins to plants, augmenting the sink activity of infected regions. However, recent findings have shed light on a distinct role of cytokinins in plant immune responses. Plant-borne cytokinins systemically induce resistance against pathogen infection. This resistance is orchestrated by endogenous cytokinin and salicylic acid signaling. Here, we discuss how plant- and pathogen-derived cytokinins inversely affect the plant defense response. In addition, we consider the molecular mechanisms underlying plant-derived cytokinin action in plant immunity.

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