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Identification of "Defense Primers" using OTR – Boosting the innate immune response for agro-cultural applications


The method developed at RWTH Aachen University enables the identification of immune primers using OTR monitoring in a new and very efficient way. Areas of application are especially in sustainable plant protection.


Abiotic stress tolerance and pest and disease resistance continue to be the key for the high-yield cultivation of crops. The so-called defense priming is a very effective mechanism for sustainable crop production. This pre­ventive method stimulates the plant’s innate immune system by applying defense-priming chemical com­pounds. Environment-friendly alter­natives to pesticides can be used in this approach. These are preferably natu­ral or near-natural compounds that boost the plant's defense capacity (as a single substance or more often as a mixture of active substances).


Defense primers provide the immune system with the tools required to cope with future stress without direct acti­vation of defense in advance. Therefore, identification of priming compounds is challenging. Current methods are mostly limited to model systems.


This method was developed with support of the Excel­lence Initiative of the DFG and the Hans Hermann Voss Foundation. Addition of priming-active compounds to a plant cell culture immediately increases cell metabolism associated with enhanced breath. This is often accom­panied by the synthesis of reactive oxygen species that are well-known mediators of plant defense. Therefore, the priming capacity of potential priming compounds can be disclosed by measuring an increased oxygen transfer rate (OTR). The respiratory activity monitoring system ‘RAMOS’, which is commercially available on the market, allows for continuous monitoring of the OTR.
RAMOS is a system capable of high-throughput and the method is also suitable for human and animal cells. Con­sequently, the method and system can be used for the identification of active ingredients in preventive medicine.


  • Fast and reliable identification of environment-friendly pesticides
  • Independent of a certain cell type
  • Simultaneously recording of the OTR and physiological parameters (e.g. ethylene release)
  • Detect natural and near-natural priming compounds in high-throughput processes
  • Analyze the activity of individual compounds and mixtures of compounds

Scope of application

A method developed by scientists at RWTH Aachen Uni­versity enables the detection of priming-active compounds that induce defense in a very efficient way. Areas of application are especially in sustainable plant protection systems.


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Development status

Proof of concept

Patent situation

  • EP 3186631 B1 granted
  • AT (EP) granted
  • CH (EP) granted
  • DE (EP) granted
  • FR (EP) granted
  • GB (EP) granted


Immune-Primers, Plant health, stress shield, defense priming, plant protection, yield increase, food security, crop plants

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