Plants are permanently facing a myriad of pathogens (fungi, viruses, bacteria) and feeding organisms such as insects; nevertheless in the vast majority of cases, plants go unaffected. Indeed, plants have an innate immune system based on pathogen detection and on defense responses, very much like what exists in animals. When a pathogen reaches a plant, a speed race starts between the invading pathogen and the plant which must fight back as quickly as possible. The outcome of this molecular warfare determines whether the pathogen spreads and infects the whole plant or whether the infection comes to a halt.

An elicitor is a molecule which does not target a specific pathogen but induces priming in plants, which is the capacity for augmented defense expression in presence of pathogens.  Elicitors are recognized by plant receptors and trigger a cascade of defense reactions*. Plants preventively treated with an elicitor precociously build up defense mechanisms, resulting in a faster and more efficient response when pathogens attack**.

"Priming involves considerably fewer (metabolic) costs (for plant) than induction of direct defense (and) the benefits of priming outweigh the costs when infection by pathogens occurs. ... induced resistance by means of priming offers an efficient form of plant protection with significant beneficits under conditions of disease occurence."***

The elicitor developed in Namur is a complex of natural oligosaccharides (patented). The particular combination of oligosaccharides from different origins is sensed by plants as an emergency signal possibly caused by an imminent and potentially fatal threat. The plant immediately responds by mobilizing its own defenses. The correct use of this elicitor in terms of concentration, formulation and application sequence induces a state of immunity (priming) which helps the plant react efficiently to a pathogen attack. No genetic modification is involved in the process.

(*) Thomas Boller and Georg Felix, A Renaissance of Elicitors: Perception of Microbe-Associated Molecular Patterns and Danger Signals by Pattern-Recognition Receptors, Annual. Review Of Plant Biology 2009, 60:379–406

(**) Gerold JM Beckers and Uwe Conrath, Priming for stress resistance: from the lab to the field, Current Opinion in Plant Biology 2007, 10:425–431

(***) Marieke van Hulten, Maaike Pelser, L.C. van Loon, Corné M.J. Pieterse and Juriaan Toon, Costs and beneficits of priming for defense in Arabidopsis, Proccedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 2006, 103:5602-5607