Project: Vanilla, an elicitor of plant defence?

Vanilla Extract

For my  project I am looking into whether a product based on vanilla can elicit defence responses in plants. I covered why there’s research into natural products in my last post.

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Going Back to Nature: Using Natural Products in Crop Protection.

all-natural-skincare

Chemical fungicides are currently under threat from new legislation. Loss of fungicides could lead to yield losses in crops due to lack of disease control. Alternative methods in to crop protection currently include the use of natural products which are less likely to damage the environment and be more acceptable by the public.

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Plants vs. Zombifying Pathogen

Many of us are familiar with the ‘zombie fungus’ (Ophiocordyceps unilateralis) which turns ants into ‘zombies’. The fungus is able to manipulate the ant behaviour to its own ends, which are to find the best spot to release its spores for reproduction, one of these released spores might land on another ant and the cycle can continue. This is not an isolated case and there are other examples this ‘zombifying’ behaviour in animals, it is also seen in plants.

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How do plants fight back?

It’s well known that animals can fight pathogens using immune cells and antibodies which travel around the body in the blood. Plants lack these mobile immune cells and they don’t produce antibodies. So, how do plants defend themselves against pathogens?

Tomato leaves exposed to P. syringae

(Figure 1, a diseased and resistant leaf, from apsnet.org)

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