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Open Access Publications from the University of California

False idolatry of the mythical growth versus immunity tradeoff in molecular systems plant pathology

  • Author(s): Kliebenstein, Daniel J
  • et al.

Systems studies of signal transduction pathways that modulate plant growth and immunity are rapidly identifying a large number of interactions within these pathways. These interactions are frequently presented as mechanisms allowing a plant to make proper decisions with regards to how to partition energy and resources in a proposed growth versus immunity tradeoff. This is a reinterpretation of the classical costs of resistance theory that has a long history in the ecology research community. While the ecology community is reinterpreting this theory, the reinterpretation has not been introduced into the molecular systems biology community that is studying the intersection of regulatory pathways. In this article, I describe evidence against a simple growth versus immunity tradeoff concept and propose an alternative wherein the intersection of these regulatory pathways is instead designed to coordinate these pathways, and not simply link them in mutual antagonism, to optimize fitness in complex environments where resistance/immunity and growth do not have simple linear relationships with fitness.

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