What if our textbooks aren't quite correct, and the plant cell wall isn't just the purely structural organ it's thought to be? That's the theory linkurl:Shauna Somerville;http://www-ciwdpb.stanford.edu/research/research_ssomerville.php of Stanford's Carnegie Institution described yesterday (February 11) in her talk at the Keystone joint meeting on plant signaling and innate immunity in Keystone, Co. Somerville studies powdery mildew, a fungal disease that infects as many as 9,000 different species of plants. The pathogen attacks by building a haustorium, an extension that breaches the plant's cell wall, enabling it to siphon off its host's nutrients. The haustorium is the key to the pathogen's success, she explained in her talk - the fungus itself has only enough nutrients to reach that stage of infection, and if it can't access those of the plant, it won't survive. But Somerville believes that the fungal bite out of the cell wall may also signal to the plant...

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