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Synthetic plant defense elicitors.

  • Author(s): Bektas, Yasemin
  • Eulgem, Thomas
  • et al.
Abstract

To defend themselves against invading pathogens plants utilize a complex regulatory network that coordinates extensive transcriptional and metabolic reprogramming. Although many of the key players of this immunity-associated network are known, the details of its topology and dynamics are still poorly understood. As an alternative to forward and reverse genetic studies, chemical genetics-related approaches based on bioactive small molecules have gained substantial popularity in the analysis of biological pathways and networks. Use of such molecular probes can allow researchers to access biological space that was previously inaccessible to genetic analyses due to gene redundancy or lethality of mutations. Synthetic elicitors are small drug-like molecules that induce plant defense responses, but are distinct from known natural elicitors of plant immunity. While the discovery of some synthetic elicitors had already been reported in the 1970s, recent breakthroughs in combinatorial chemical synthesis now allow for inexpensive high-throughput screens for bioactive plant defense-inducing compounds. Along with powerful reverse genetics tools and resources available for model plants and crop systems, comprehensive collections of new synthetic elicitors will likely allow plant scientists to study the intricacies of plant defense signaling pathways and networks in an unparalleled fashion. As synthetic elicitors can protect crops from diseases, without the need to be directly toxic for pathogenic organisms, they may also serve as promising alternatives to conventional biocidal pesticides, which often are harmful for the environment, farmers and consumers. Here we are discussing various types of synthetic elicitors that have been used for studies on the plant immune system, their modes-of-action as well as their application in crop protection.

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