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Green Red-Alert: Plant fights invaders with animal-like trick

Mustard plants launch an immunological response to bacteria much as animals do, researchers have found.

The laboratory mustard Arabidopsis thaliana reacts with a burst of nitric oxide when it encounters certain compounds from bacterial cells, says Jörg Durner of GSF-National Research Center for Environment and Health in Neuherberg, Germany. The trigger for nitric oxide synthesis also activates a battalion of defense genes in the mustard, Durner and his colleagues report in an upcoming Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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