Elicitins as molecular weapons against pathogens: consolidated biotechnological strategy for enhancing plant growth

Ali Noman*, Muhammad Aqeel, Muhammad Kashif Irshad, Sameer H. Qari, Mohamed Hashem, Saad Alamri, Awatif M. AbdulMajeed, Abdullah M. Al-Sadi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


To fight against pathogens, defense systems in plants mainly depend upon preformed as well as induced responses. Pathogen detection activates induced responses and signals are transmitted for coordinated cellular events in order to restrict infection and spread. In spite of significant developments in manipulating genes, transcription factors and proteins for their involvement in immunity, absolute tolerance/resistance to pathogens has not been seen in plants/crops. Defense responses, among diverse plant types, to different pathogens involve modifications at the physio-biochemical and molecular levels. Secreted by oomycetes, elicitins are small, highly conserved and sterol-binding extracellular proteins with PAMP (pathogen associated molecular patterns) functions and are capable of eliciting plant defense reactions. Belonging to multigene families in oomycetes, elicitins are different from other plant proteins and show a different affinity for binding sterols and other lipids. These function for sterols binding to catalyze their inter-membrane and intra- as well as inter-micelle transport. Importantly, elicitins protect plants by inducing HR (hypersensitive response) and systemic acquired resistance. Despite immense metabolic significance and the involvement in defense activities, elicitins have not yet been fully studied and many questions regarding their functional activities remain to be explained. In order to address multiple questions associated with the role of elicitins, we have reviewed the understanding and topical advancements in plant defense mechanisms with a particular interest in elicitin-based defense actions and metabolic activities. This article offers potential attributes of elicitins as the biological control of plant diseases and can be considered as a baseline toward a more profound understanding of elicitins.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)821-832
Number of pages12
JournalCritical Reviews in Biotechnology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Aug 17 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Biological functions
  • defense
  • elicitins; metabolism
  • oomycetes
  • plants; proteins

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology


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