Biodegradable peptides as triggers of plant defense against pathogens and pests

Biologically active compounds derived from plants, e.g., peptide elicitors are known as a strong inducer of defense responses against pathogens and pests. Recently, the PI’s group found that several peptides from potato can induce a defense response. They also found that other peptides have a potential to be a stronger defense inducer in potatoes. To expand this study, they further synthesize candidate peptides, and evaluate those activities on plant immunity responses in potatoes. The overall objective of this proposal is to evaluate the effect of peptide elicitors as a defense inducer for potato plants. This project provides a starting point to develop a novel approach to control destructive pathogens and pests by maximizing the natural immunity of potatoes. The identified defense inducers in this proposal are comparable to natural biological compounds. All experiments in the project were performed on a lab-bench basis.

Grant Information

  • Project ID: 167
  • Project Status: Complete


  • Principal Investigator(s): Tanaka, K.
  • Investigator(s): Hadwiger, L.
  • Grant Amount: $26,851



The following publications are anticipated to be published.

  • Tanaka K (2019) Damage-associated molecular patterns (DAMPs): detection, signaling, and responses. Rev. Phytopathol. (in preparation)
  • Moroz N, DeSields JB, Tanaka K (2019) Novel peptide elicitors from potato roots infected by powdery scab pathogen. Plant Sci. (Submitted)

Additional Funds Leveraged

This BIOAg grant has been supported this project as seed funding to generate preliminary data to submit the following proposals.


  • Northwest Potato Research Consortium ($40,573). Identification and characterization of elicitors to maximize defense system against powdery scab in potato roots. PI: Tanaka K; Co-PIs: Johnson DA and Brown CR. 7/1/17 – 6/31/18
  • Northwest Potato Research Consortium – Renewed ($40,603). Identification and characterization of elicitors to maximize defense system against powdery scab in potato roots. PI: Tanaka K; Co-PIs: Johnson DA and Brown CR. 7/1/18 – 6/31/19


  • USDA-AFRI ($499,021) Rhizospheric delivery system of biodegradable immunostimulants to control powdery scab disease in potato. PI: Tanaka K; Co-PI: Gleason C (submitted in 2018)
  • WSDA-SCBGP ($248,470) Improved disease control strategies of potato powdery scab. PI: Tanaka K (submitted in 2018)
  • Northwest Potato Research Consortium ($10,000) Defense responses signaled in potato tissue. PI: Hadwiger LA; Co-PI: Tanaka K (submitted in 2018)


  • Short-Term: This project has trained one graduate student, one postdoc, and two high school students through direct involvement in several activities. The PI’s and Co-PI’s groups obtained some peptide elicitors as a trigger of potato defense against pathogens and pests. Outcome form this research is currently prepared for publication in scientific journals.
  • Intermediate-Term: The data obtained in this research provide a foundation for comprehensive investigations of mechanisms of the plant’s damaged-self recognition that improves resistance to fungal infections and the damage caused by herbivores. It has a potential to develop a strategy to control various potato diseases.
  • Long-Term: The ultimate goal is to obtain public awareness regarding the benefits of using the peptide elicitors, i.e., biologically natural compounds derived from potatoes. It is expected to reduce usage of pesticides, eventually decrease environmental impact and retain agro-ecosystem.