The plant immune system: From discovery to deployment

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A review of the past 50 years of plant immunity by Jones, Staskawicz, and Dangl? Yes please. As the article lays out, understanding the plant immune system benefitted greatly from the early advances in plant molecular biology and gene cloning, which allowed established concepts to be linked to proteins. Over a short period of time, several receptor proteins and pathogen effectors were identified, leading to the two-step model of cell-surface pattern-triggered immunity, backed up by intracellular effector-triggered immunity. This simple model has provided a structure that encompasses an extraordinary degree of nuance and subtlety, spurred in part by advances in structural analysis, sequencing, phylogenomics, and metagenomics. The authors conclude with a list of questions they would like to see solved in the next 20 years. Ultimately, it is the application of this knowledge to crop plants to enhance global food security that really matters, and this will be helped by CRISPR-based genome editing tools as well as an enlightened public who understand how today’s technology to support plant immunity connects to classical breeding; this article does an excellent job of bridging that gap.


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