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Plant immunity: Rice XA21-mediated resistance to bacterial infection


PNAS February 22, 2022 119 (8) e2121568119;
  1. Contributed by Pam Ronald; received November 27, 2021; accepted December 28, 2021; reviewed by Barbara Baker and Jonathan Jones


The mechanisms plants employ to resist infection were unknown until just a few decades ago. We now understand that plants utilize diverse classes of immune receptors to recognize and respond to pathogenic microbes and pests. This paper describes the development of the plant immunity field, from early studies on the genetics of disease resistance to our increasing knowledge of how plant receptors interact with their microbial ligands, with an emphasis on the rice immune receptor XA21 and its bacterial ligand.


In this article, we describe the development of the plant immunity field, starting with efforts to understand the genetic basis for disease resistance, which ∼30 y ago led to the discovery of diverse classes of immune receptors that recognize and respond to infectious microbes. We focus on knowledge gained from studies of the rice XA21 immune receptor that recognizes RaxX (required for activation of XA21 mediated immunity X), a sulfated microbial peptide secreted by the gram-negative bacterium Xanthomonas oryzae pv. oryzae. XA21 is representative of a large class of plant and animal immune receptors that recognize and respond to conserved microbial molecules. We highlight the complexity of this large class of receptors in plants, discuss a possible role for RaxX in Xanthomonas biology, and draw attention to the important role of sulfotyrosine in mediating receptor–ligand interactions.

Perception of extracellular signals by cell-surface receptors is of central importance to eukaryotic development and immunity. For example, in the absence of an adaptive immune system, plants rely on a repertoire of innate immune receptors to recognize potential pathogens and initiate defensive responses. A key research focus of the P.R. laboratory is to understand the principles and mechanisms that underlie the processes governing the immune response.

Here we describe our 30-y effort to dissect the genetic and molecular basis of the innate immune response in the staple food crop and model organism rice Oryza sativa.

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