Plants have the remarkable ability to protect themselves against pathogens by closing their stomata – but until now, the underlying mechanism was not known. Recently, researchers from the universities of Zurich and Maryland have identified the calcium channel that initiates stomatal closure when plants encounter microbes.
More than 5,000 aphid species are known, many of which are pests that result in significant economic losses in a wide range of crops worldwide. Aphids possess several types of symbiotic microorganisms, particularly symbiotic bacteria and viruses. The mutualistic relationship with viruses is an aspect of plant disease has not been well explored.
Researchers at the Department of Plant Pathology at the University of California Davis have discovered that plants have an immune system that helps them fight off infections. Unlike humans, plants don’t make antibodies and can’t fight off the same bug more quickly months or years later. However, plant cells can identify pathogens and react to them, often by producing a burst of reactive oxygen which is toxic to bacteria or fungi. Cells around an infected site will go into programmed cell death to seal off the disease.