Playing this game allows students to experience through game-play the continuing co-evolution between plants and their microbial pathogens that occurs during the battle to detect/defend (plants) versus evade/invade (pathogens). This battle is ongoing in nature over evolutionary time and observable in agricultural fields from one season to another, where crop choice or agricultural biotechnology can quickly alter plants in response to changes in pathogen populations. In VegevadersTM, the teacher shows the provided PowerPoint presentation, teaching the underlying biology as well as the rules for game play and scoring, as students begin to play the game. Students play in pairs, plant versus pathogen, on a play mat with 4 sets of cards that represent different pathogen molecules (Rows 1 and 3) or plant receptors (Rows 2 and 4). Card matches represent specific detection events that, for the plant, result in activation of one or the other of the two levels of the plant immune defense response. A pathogen card in Row 3 that matches a plant-pathogen card pair (Rows 1 and 2) can disable the plant defense response and allow pathogen invasion. Alternatively, random mutations (drawing to replace a card) can change pathogen molecules, thus disrupting lock-and-key recognition and allowing invasion, or change the plant’s detection repertoire, restoring detection and successful defense. Game play continues, alternating between card play/scoring and evolution of plant/pathogen, mimicking the rules of the game between plants and pathogens in nature, still playing after millions of years.
The link to materials and detailed information is at: