Bruno Ngou, a previous NRPDTP student based at The Sainsbury Laboratory, has had a first author paper “Mutual Potentiation of Plant Immunity by Cell-surface and Intracellular Receptors”, published in Nature. Bruno and his coauthors at The Sainsbury Laboratory were able to make their breakthrough by engineering the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana so that they could use a chemical to initiate the production of a recognized bacterial effector proteins inside plant cells to activate effector-triggered immunity (ETI) without pattern-triggered immunity (PTI).
Plants recognise pathogens via two types of receptors. Cell surface receptors detect extracellular pathogen-derived molecules and activate pattern-triggered immunity (PTI). Intracellular receptors detect pathogen-secreted molecules and activate effector-triggered immunity (ETI). While PTI and ETI have been extensively studied for the last 20 years, it was unclear how these two distinct immune systems interact. This work proves that extracellular immune receptors function together with intracellular immune receptors to provide robust immunity against plant pathogens. We showed that PTI enhances ETI responses, and ETI reciprocally enhances PTI responses. Activation of either immune system alone is insufficient to provide effective resistance against bacterial pathogens.