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Tiny Protein Helps Bacteria 'Talk' and Triggers Defensive Response in Plants

Scientists have discovered a new signal that helps invading bacteria communicate but also helps targeted rice plants coordinate defensive attacks on the disease-causing invaders, a finding that could lead to new methods of combating infection not just in plants, but in humans.


Findings from the study, conducted by a team of researchers led by a University of California, Davis, scientist, are reported in the journal PLoS ONE and in the journal Discovery Medicine.

"Just as invading armies often use coded messages to coordinate attacks on their targets, so single-celled bacteria use biological signals to communicate when they attack plants and animals," said Pamela Ronald, a UC Davis professor of plant pathology and the lead researcher on the study. "Scientists have known this for 20 years, however results from our study reveal a type of bacterial signal that has never been described before."

Ronald has posted an article about the study on her blog, "Tomorrow's Table," at http://scienceblogs.com/tomorrowstable/.

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