11 Resveratrol - Defence by Suicide

Snowball Effect of Plant Defence

Chang X, Heene E, Qiao F, Nick P (2011) The phytoalexin resveratrol regulates the initiation of hypersensitive cell death in Vitis. PLoS ONE 6, e26405. pdf

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What is it about

Resveratrol is the central weapon of grapevine against microbial pathogens. Sophisticated pathogens such as Powdery and Downy Mildew can hijack plant immunity and turn the infected cells into helpless zombies that provide the intruder with sugar. Here, suicide is the only strategy to pull the aggressor into doom. In this study, we show that resveratrol, so far known as antifungal toxin, can also induce cellular suicides (so-called Hypersensitive Response). As one of the earliest responses we see a contraction of actin filaments, the muscles of plant cells, heralding subsequent suicide. This will then induce the accumulation of additional resveratrol, leading to a self-amplifying system. This allows to contain the intruder and safeguard the neighbouring cells by the self-sacrifice of the infected cell.