Plant stress - lectins protect

Plant stressPlants are confronted with environmental stress factors such as extreme temperatures, drought, pathogen infection or insect infestation. Unlike mammals, plants are stuck wherever they grow and they cannot flee from an adverse situation.

To survive, plants have developed a protection system that allows them to cope with unfavorable conditions. They synthesize low molecular weight compounds and proteins to respond to stress. An important group of stress proteins are the carbohydrate-binding proteins or lectins.

Why are lectins important for plants?

  • Some lectins play a role in plant signaling. They can sense changes in the environment and trigger other plant protection responses.
  • Particular lectins in seed and storage tissues are toxic and defend the plant against invading micro-organisms and pests.

What we do

We investigate the importance of stress-inducible lectins in the response of the plant to environmental stress. Getting to know the  mode of action contributes to novel strategies for crop protection and the design or selection of plants with better growth, higher yield, etc. in adverse environmental conditions.


Prof. Els Van Damme