HR Excellence in Science
Date: 12.04.2021

Reactive signalling molecules help plants fight disease

Each cell produces during metabolic processes various by-products, including molecules possessing reactive oxygen (so called “reactive oxygen species”, ROS). Such a molecules react very readily with almost everything, what can be dangerous situation for cells. Therefore, the cells not only developed the way how to mitigate potential risk, but they also started to use ROS in their favor. They use exact, small amounts of ROS-molecules for communication in various situations, reactive oxygen species are utilised also by the immune system to fight pathogens.

Researchers from the Czech Republic, Finland, Japan and the USA led by Michael Wrzaczek (Biology Centre CAS/University of Helsinki) and Prof. Gitta Coaker (University of California Davis) review recent advances about the role of ROS in combating pathogens in plants. They show that, despite their differences, plants and animals alike use remarkably conserved strict control mechanisms to use potentially damaging forms of oxygen as cellular messengers. This striking conservation can fuel new studies to identify approaches to render crops more resistant to disease in the future. Their study has been published in Nature Plants on April 12, 2021.

The authors integrate new information on the role of reactive forms of oxygen in plants, in particular in the response to pathogenic microbes and integrate the diverse research into a new model of how reactive oxygen species aid as messengers in defense responses. They also take a close look at enzymes which actively produce reactive oxygen species in response to contact with a pathogen in plants as well as similar enzymes in humans. It was thought that the regulation of reactive oxygen species production was different between plants and animals. However, evolutionary analysis and modelling of the protein structure revealed a strong conservation of those enzymes, in particular of the parts which are involved in regulating its activity. This allows the transfer of information of how those enzymes are regulated in humans to plants with the aim of making plants more resistant to diseases in the future.



Stress-induced reactive oxygen species compartmentalization, perception and signalling. Bardo Castro, Matteo Citterico, Sachie Kimura, Danielle Stevens, Michael Wrzaczek, Gitta Coaker. Nature Plants




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