Plants can't swat a bug or run away from one, but that doesn't mean that plants can't fight back. Plants have evolved unique and sophisticated immune systems to defend themselves against insects and pathogens. Plant hormones called jasmonates play an important role in this defense, but jasmonates have been found to also be important for plant growth. Now, researchers reporting in the May 23 issue of the Cell Press journal Molecular Cell have discovered a gene in the jasmonate pathway that controls plant defenses but does not play a detectable role in plant development. These findings could be applied to improve crop resistance in agriculture.
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