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Microbial elicitors or attempted infection with an avirulent pathogen strain causes
the rapid production of reactive oxygen intermediates. We report here that H2O2 from
this oxidative burst not only drives the cross-linking of cell wall structural proteins,
but also functions as a local trigger of programmed death in challenged cells and
as a diffusible signal for the induction in adjacent cells of genes encoding cellular
protectants such as glutathione S-transferase and glutathione peroxidase. Thus, H2O2
from the oxidative burst plays a key role in the orchestration of a localized hypersensitive
response during the expression of plant disease resistance.