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Annu Rev Phytopathol. 2011;49:175-95. doi: 10.1146/annurev-phyto-072910-095323.

Diverse targets of phytoplasma effectors: from plant development to defense against insects.

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Department of Disease and Stress Biology, The John Innes Centre, Norwich Research Park, Norwich NR1 3LY, United Kingdom.


Phytoplasma research begins to bloom (75). Indeed, this review shows that substantial progress has been made with the identification of phytoplasma effectors that alter flower development, induce witches' broom, affect leaf shape, and modify plant-insect interactions. Phytoplasmas have a unique life cycle among pathogens, as they invade organisms of two distinct kingdoms, namely plants (Plantae) and insects (Animalia), and replicate intracellularly in both. Phytoplasmas release effectors into host cells of plants and insects to target host molecules, and in plants these effectors unload from the phloem to access distal tissues and alter basic developmental processes. The effectors provide phytoplasmas with a fitness advantage by modulating their plant and insect hosts. We expect that further research on the functional characterization of phytoplasma effectors will generate new knowledge that is relevant to fundamental aspects of plant sciences and entomology, and for agriculture by improving yields of crops affected by phytoplasma diseases.

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