elicitor

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elicitor A substance or other stimulus that triggers the hypersensitive response in a plant (see hypersensitivity). Most elicitors are polysaccharides, small proteins, or lipids associated with the fungal or bacterial cell wall. However, pectic fragments resulting from microbial damage to the plant's own cell walls may also act as elicitors. The elicitors interact with the plasma membrane of undamaged cells and trigger activation of genes involved in the defence response. The precise nature of this signal transduction mechanism is still unknown.