Death Switch Mechanism in Plants

Death Switch mechanism in Plants

Question: Scientists of which country have recently discovered Death Switch mechanism in Plant`s Immune System?
(a) USA
(b) UK
(c) China
(d) Luxemburg
Answer: (c)
Related facts:

  • Chinese scientists have discovered a possible Death Switch mechanism in plant’s immune system that triggers infected cells to self-destruct, thus limiting the spread of the disease and keeping other parts of the plant healthy.
  • Death Switch is usually harmless to the plant as it affects only the diseased cells, which are a tiny portion of the entire plant.
  • The finding of this research was published on 5th April, 2019 in Journal Science.
  • The research was done by scientists from Tsinghua University and the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Genetics and Development Biology.
  • Scientists about 20 years ago discovered that plants also have robust immune system like animals. This system can protect itself from pathogens including viruses, fungi, bacteria and parasites.
  • Plants also have a unique lure and catch immune response to deal with pathogens that have split their cellular defence. The actual working of this remained unknown.

The research:

  • It was reported that a protein called AvrAC was studied in this research which is produced by a bacterial pathogen that causes black rot on cabbage. The AvrAC is injected by bacterium into plant cells, where it acts as a biochemical weapon weakening the plant’s immune system.
  • It was also discovered that some plants have evolved to carry a resistance protein called ZAR1 (it is activated to form a multiprotein structure called resistosome) that can detect bacterial proteins like AvrAC.
  • The resistosome inserts itself into the cell’s membrane and triggers it to destroy itself along with the invading pathogens, thus protecting other healthy cells.


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