Plant cells are connected by plasmodesmata (PD), cytosolic bridges that allow molecules to freely move across the cell wall. Recently resolved relationships among land plants and their algal relatives reveal that land plants evolved PD independently from algae. Proteomic and genetic screens illuminate new dimensions of the structural and regulatory pathways that control PD biogenesis. Biochemical studies demonstrate that immunological signals induce systemic defenses by moving from diseased cells through PD; subsequently, PD transport is restricted to quarantine diseased cells. Here, we review our expanding knowledge of the roles of PD in plant development, physiology, and immunity.
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