Mutual Assured Success
Being invaded isn’t always bad. In a new study, Duke researcher Elhanan Tzipilevich of the Benfey lab shows that when bacteria (green) invade plant roots (red), they trigger an immune response, like your body fighting a cold. The plant fights the infection by producing toxic oxygen-based substances. In response, the bacteria produce a plant hormone, auxin. Auxin stimulates the production of lateral roots, and helps the bacteria colonize the plant. In this fight between bacteria and plant, both sides are winners: the plant’s immune response helps bacteria get established, and bacteria protect the plant against fungal infections.