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Cold Spring Harb Symp Quant Biol. 2012;77:235-47. doi: 10.1101/sqb.2012.77.015933. Epub 2012 Dec 6.

Effector biology of plant-associated organisms: concepts and perspectives.

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  • 1The Sainsbury Laboratory, Norwich Research Park, Norwich, NR4 7UH United Kingdom.


Every plant is closely associated with a variety of living organisms. Therefore, deciphering how plants interact with mutualistic and parasitic organisms is essential for a comprehensive understanding of the biology of plants. The field of plant-biotic interactions has recently coalesced around an integrated model. Major classes of molecular players both from plants and their associated organisms have been revealed. These include cell surface and intracellular immune receptors of plants as well as apoplastic and host-cell-translocated (cytoplasmic) effectors of the invading organism. This article focuses on effectors, molecules secreted by plant-associated organisms that alter plant processes. Effectors have emerged as a central class of molecules in our integrated view of plant-microbe interactions. Their study has significantly contributed to advancing our knowledge of plant hormones, plant development, plant receptors, and epigenetics. Many pathogen effectors are extraordinary examples of biological innovation; they include some of the most remarkable proteins known to function inside plant cells. Here, we review some of the key concepts that have emerged from the study of the effectors of plant-associated organisms. In particular, we focus on how effectors function in plant tissues and discuss future perspectives in the field of effector biology.

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