Research ArticleHost-Pathogen Interactions

Parasitic Worms Stimulate Host NADPH Oxidases to Produce Reactive Oxygen Species That Limit Plant Cell Death and Promote Infection

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Science Signaling  08 Apr 2014:
Vol. 7, Issue 320, pp. ra33
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.2004777

Promoting Parasitism with ROS

Some species of nematode worms can invade the roots of plants and establish a feeding site composed of a large syncytial plant cell. This biotrophic lifestyle requires that the worms find a way to suppress plants’ immune responses. One aspect of plant immunity is the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) that damage pathogens and promote plant cell death to limit the spread of infection. Siddique et al. found that deleting the enzymes that produce ROS in Arabidopsis thaliana plants responding to infection by Heterodera schachtii worms prevented the worms from establishing syncytia and growing within roots, suggesting that the worms have co-opted plant ROS as a means of promoting parasitism. Thus, plant ROS can play both positive and negative roles during infection.

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