by Katie Peikes, University of Delaware
Traffic lights signal to cars and buses when to stop, slow and go. Much like traffic lights, plant cells send signals to each other to perform photosynthesis to grow or fight off destructive viruses and pathogens.
Plant cells produce plasmodesmata, tiny tiny tubes that act as communication channels, allowing those signals to move from cell to cell. The plasmodesmata will open and close in response to various signals that activate protein regulators such as PDLP5.
"We knew that this protein is critical for plant defense," said Jung-Youn Lee, a University of Delaware professor of plant molecular and cellular biology and the interim director of the Delaware Biotechnology Institute. "But how does this protein get to the plasmodesmata?"
The question—how these protein regulators find their destination to fulfill their purpose and help a cell function—had been plaguing scientists. Until the University of Delaware got involved.