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Annu Rev Phytopathol. 2001;39:259-84.

Common mechanisms for pathogens of plants and animals.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital, Shriner's Burn Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts 02114, USA.


The vast evolutionary gulf between plants and animals--in terms of structure, composition, and many environmental factors--would seem to preclude the possibility that these organisms could act as receptive hosts to the same microorganism. However, some pathogens are capable of establishing themselves and thriving in members of both the plant and animal kingdoms. The identification of functionally conserved virulence mechanisms required to infect hosts of divergent evolutionary origins demonstrates the remarkable conservation in some of the underlying virulence mechanisms of pathogenesis and is changing researchers' thinking about the evolution of microbial pathogenesis.

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