How do plants achieve immunity? Defence without specialized immune cells

Nat Rev Immunol. 2012 Jan 25;12(2):89-100. doi: 10.1038/nri3141.


Vertebrates have evolved a sophisticated adaptive immune system that relies on an almost infinite diversity of antigen receptors that are clonally expressed by specialized immune cells that roam the circulatory system. These immune cells provide vertebrates with extraordinary antigen-specific immune capacity and memory, while minimizing self-reactivity. Plants, however, lack specialized mobile immune cells. Instead, every plant cell is thought to be capable of launching an effective immune response. So how do plants achieve specific, self-tolerant immunity and establish immune memory? Recent developments point towards a multilayered plant innate immune system comprised of self-surveillance, systemic signalling and chromosomal changes that together establish effective immunity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Disease Resistance / genetics
  • Disease Resistance / immunology*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant / immunology
  • Immunity / immunology*
  • Models, Immunological
  • Plant Diseases / genetics
  • Plant Diseases / immunology*
  • Plant Proteins / genetics
  • Plant Proteins / immunology
  • Plant Proteins / metabolism
  • Plants / genetics
  • Plants / immunology*
  • Plants / metabolism


  • Plant Proteins