Pathogen-induced plant diseases are among the greatest deterrents to agriculture worldwide. Properly regulated defense signaling networks are critical for the fitness of plants. However, it remains challenging to identify which genes regulate plant innate immunity, decipher how these genes affect antimicrobial activities, and determine how the defense regulatory networks are coordinated.
We exploit the powerful model system Arabidopsis thaliana in our investigations of mechanisms of plant innate immunity. Arabidopsis is a small herbaceous plant that can be easily grown within limited space. It has a short life cycle and extremely well characterized genetics. In addition, Arabidopsis has a relatively small, fully sequenced genome, and can be easily manipulated at the physiological, genetic and molecular levels. As all higher plants are believed to share similar innate immunity, knowledge on defense mechanisms obtained from Arabidopsis can be readily applied to other plants and enable us to better control diseases in agriculturally important crops.