Signaling Molecules Help Plants Fight Microbes – ICBR Scientists Contribute to Groundbreaking Research

Signaling Molecules Help Plants Fight Microbes – ICBR Scientists Contribute to Groundbreaking Research

Scientists from the University of Florida Interdisciplinary Center for Biotechnology Research (ICBR) have made a significant contribution to a study published in the journal Nature Communications that advances our understanding of plant immune response. The research study was led by Dr. Zhonglin Mou in the UF Molecular and Cell Sciences Department and Dr. Shweta Chhajed in the UF Department of Biology. Dr. Yanping Zhang, Scientific Director of Gene Expression & Genotyping, and Dr. Fahong Yu, Bioinformatics Scientist, played pivotal roles in this groundbreaking research.

The publication is entitled N-hydroxypipecolic acid triggers systemic acquired resistance through extracellular NAD(P) and focuses on systemic acquired resistance (SAR), a critical plant defense mechanism. Unlike animals, plants cannot rely on mobile innate immune cells or adaptive immunity. Instead, they employ SAR, a long-lasting, broad-spectrum defense activated in tissues distant from the initial infection site. This response is triggered by mobile signals from the primary infection zone. However, the specific details of this signaling cascade in initiating downstream SAR signaling was previously unclear. This study sheds light on this mystery by identifying key signaling molecules. These molecules facilitate chemical communication between locally infected cells and distal tissues that is crucial in mounting the SAR response.

Data generated by ICBR scientists and co-authors Dr. Yanping Zhang (Gene Expression) and Dr. Fahong Yu (Bioinformatics) contributed to the findings presented in this report. Their contributions provide deeper insights into the SAR mechanism in plants, enhancing our understanding of plant immune responses at the molecular level.

This publication not only emphasizes the University of Florida’s role in leading botanical research but also highlights the significance of interdisciplinary collaboration in scientific advancements.

For more details about this study, visit