Bring on the Defenses

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Science  14 Jul 2000:
Vol. 289, Issue 5477, pp. 213
DOI: 10.1126/science.289.5477.213i

When plants are subjected to stress, they bring out their chemical arsenal of secondary metabolites that are often harvested for their incidental value as pharmaceuticals, flavors, dyes, and insecticides. This biosynthetic response is mediated in part by (methyl)jasmonate, a plant hormone produced in response to stress. Van der Fits and Memelink (p. 295) have now identified a transcription factor, ORCA3, which is regulated by (methyl)jasmonate and in turn regulates several genes in both primary and secondary metabolic pathways. Analysis of this gene leads to insights into how plants bring their chemical defense responses online without destructively disrupting their primary metabolic pathways, as well as into ways to produce secondary metabolites in vitro.

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