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Annu Rev Phytopathol. 2002;40:137-67. Epub 2002 Feb 20.

Molecular basis of recognition between phytophthora pathogens and their hosts.

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Virginia Bioinformatics Institute, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg 24061, USA.


Recognition is the earliest step in any direct plant-microbe interaction. Recognition between Phytophthora pathogens, which are oomycetes, phylogenetically distinct from fungi, has been studied at two levels. Recognition of the host by the pathogen has focused on recognition of chemical, electrical, and physical features of plant roots by zoospores. Both host-specific factors such as isoflavones, and host-nonspecific factors such as amino acids, calcium, and electrical fields, influence zoospore taxis, encystment, cyst germination, and hyphal chemotropism in guiding the pathogen to potential infection sites. Recognition of the pathogen by the host defense machinery has been analyzed using biochemical and genetic approaches. Biochemical approaches have identified chemical elicitors of host defense responses, and in some cases, their cognate receptors from the host. Some elicitors, such as glucans and fatty acids, have broad host ranges, whereas others such as elicitins have narrow host ranges. Most elicitors identified appear to contribute primarily to basic or nonhost resistance. Genetic analysis has identified host resistance (R) genes and pathogen avirulence (Avr) genes that interact in a gene-for-gene manner. One Phytophthora Avr gene, Avr1b from P. sojae, has been cloned and characterized. It encodes a secreted elicitor that triggers a system-wide defense response in soybean plants carrying the cognate R gene, Rps1b.

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