A protective zone of dead cells (brown) around a virus invasion (purple) halts the spread of virus. Credit: Nicolle Rager Fuller, NSF
Researchers at Yale have identified a gene that regulates the major immune response in plants, programmed cell death (PCD), according to a recent report in the journal Cell.
To protect themselves from viruses, plants create a zone of dead cells around an infection site that prevents the infection from spreading. Savithramma Dinesh-Kumar, associate professor of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology at Yale and his colleagues discovered how the plants keep from killing themselves after they turn on the cell-suicide PCD process.
Dinesh-Kumar first developed a technique for silencing or inactivating plant genes -- a technique that is now used by several research groups. His group studies the interaction between plants and viruses using tobacco as a model system.
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