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How Plants Close their Gates when Microbes Attack

Image Stomata
Stomata, tiny pores on the leaf, enable gas exchange with the environment and batten down the hatches when they encounter potentially pathogenic microbes. (Image:

Like humans, plants protect themselves against pathogens. An international consortium under the lead of UZH professor Cyril Zipfel has now identified a long sought-after factor of this plant immune system: The calcium channel triggers the closure of stomata upon contact with microbes such as bacteria. This innate defense mechanism could help to engineer crop plants that are resistant to pathogens.

"Obviously, this channel is involved in an important immune response in plants," says Zipfel. "These findings therefore have the potential to help with the engineering of pathogen-resistant crops." Under real and significant threat by pathogens the plants could then close the gates that would normally allow dangerous microbes to enter into their tissues.

Media release UZH