Plant/animal hybrid proteins could help crops fend off diseases
A new biological mashup just dropped.
“Pikobodies,” bioengineered immune system proteins that are part plant and part animal, could help flora better fend off diseases, researchers report in the March 3 Science. The protein hybrids exploit animals’ uniquely flexible immune systems, loaning plants the ability to fight off emerging pathogens.
Flora typically rely on physical barriers to keep disease-causing microbes at bay. If something unusual makes it inside the plants, internal sensors sound the alarm and infected cells die. But as pathogens evolve ways to dodge these defenses, plants can’t adapt in real time. Animals’ adaptive immune systems can, making a wealth of antibodies in a matter of weeks when exposed to a pathogen.
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