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      Modulation of Phytoalexin Biosynthesis in Engineered Plants for Disease Resistance

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          Phytoalexins are antimicrobial substances of low molecular weight produced by plants in response to infection or stress, which form part of their active defense mechanisms. Starting in the 1950’s, research on phytoalexins has begun with biochemistry and bio-organic chemistry, resulting in the determination of their structure, their biological activity as well as mechanisms of their synthesis and their catabolism by microorganisms. Elucidation of the biosynthesis of numerous phytoalexins has permitted the use of molecular biology tools for the exploration of the genes encoding enzymes of their synthesis pathways and their regulators. Genetic manipulation of phytoalexins has been investigated to increase the disease resistance of plants. The first example of a disease resistance resulting from foreign phytoalexin expression in a novel plant has concerned a phytoalexin from grapevine which was transferred to tobacco. Transformations were then operated to investigate the potential of other phytoalexin biosynthetic genes to confer resistance to pathogens. Unexpectedly, engineering phytoalexins for disease resistance in plants seem to have been limited to exploiting only a few phytoalexin biosynthetic genes, especially those encoding stilbenes and some isoflavonoids. Research has rather focused on indirect approaches which allow modulation of the accumulation of phytoalexin employing transcriptional regulators or components of upstream regulatory pathways. Genetic approaches using gain- or less-of functions in phytoalexin engineering together with modulation of phytoalexin accumulation through molecular engineering of plant hormones and defense-related marker and elicitor genes have been reviewed.

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          Most cited references 214

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          The plant immune system.

          Many plant-associated microbes are pathogens that impair plant growth and reproduction. Plants respond to infection using a two-branched innate immune system. The first branch recognizes and responds to molecules common to many classes of microbes, including non-pathogens. The second responds to pathogen virulence factors, either directly or through their effects on host targets. These plant immune systems, and the pathogen molecules to which they respond, provide extraordinary insights into molecular recognition, cell biology and evolution across biological kingdoms. A detailed understanding of plant immune function will underpin crop improvement for food, fibre and biofuels production.
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            Plant immunity: towards an integrated view of plant-pathogen interactions.

            Plants are engaged in a continuous co-evolutionary struggle for dominance with their pathogens. The outcomes of these interactions are of particular importance to human activities, as they can have dramatic effects on agricultural systems. The recent convergence of molecular studies of plant immunity and pathogen infection strategies is revealing an integrated picture of the plant-pathogen interaction from the perspective of both organisms. Plants have an amazing capacity to recognize pathogens through strategies involving both conserved and variable pathogen elicitors, and pathogens manipulate the defence response through secretion of virulence effector molecules. These insights suggest novel biotechnological approaches to crop protection.
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              A renaissance of elicitors: perception of microbe-associated molecular patterns and danger signals by pattern-recognition receptors.

              Microbe-associated molecular patterns (MAMPs) are molecular signatures typical of whole classes of microbes, and their recognition plays a key role in innate immunity. Endogenous elicitors are similarly recognized as damage-associated molecular patterns (DAMPs). This review focuses on the diversity of MAMPs/DAMPs and on progress to identify the corresponding pattern recognition receptors (PRRs) in plants. The two best-characterized MAMP/PRR pairs, flagellin/FLS2 and EF-Tu/EFR, are discussed in detail and put into a phylogenetic perspective. Both FLS2 and EFR are leucine-rich repeat receptor kinases (LRR-RKs). Upon treatment with flagellin, FLS2 forms a heteromeric complex with BAK1, an LRR-RK that also acts as coreceptor for the brassinolide receptor BRI1. The importance of MAMP/PRR signaling for plant immunity is highlighted by the finding that plant pathogens use effectors to inhibit PRR complexes or downstream signaling events. Current evidence indicates that MAMPs, DAMPs, and effectors are all perceived as danger signals and induce a stereotypic defense response.

                Author and article information

                Laboratory of Stress, Defenses and Plant Reproduction, Research Unit “Vines and Wines of Champagne”, UPRES EA 4707, Faculty of Sciences, University of Reims, P.O. Box 1039, Reims 51687, France; E-Mails: christophe.clement@ (C.C.); eric.courot@ (E.C.); sylvain.cordelier@ (S.C.)
                Author notes
                [* ]Author to whom correspondence should be addressed; E-Mail: philippe.jeandet@ ; Tel.: +33-3-2691-3341; Fax: +33-3-2691-3340.
                Int J Mol Sci
                Int J Mol Sci
                International Journal of Molecular Sciences
                Molecular Diversity Preservation International (MDPI)
                July 2013
                08 July 2013
                : 14
                : 7
                : 14136-14170
                © 2013 by the authors; licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland

                This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution license (


                Molecular biology

                regulation, elicitors, hormones, transcriptional factors, phytoalexins, plant engineering


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