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Front Plant Sci. 2013 Jun 11;4:191. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2013.00191. eCollection 2013.

Pathogenicity of and plant immunity to soft rot pectobacteria.

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Division of Genetics, Department of Biosciences, University of Helsinki Helsinki, Finland.


Soft rot pectobacteria are broad host range enterobacterial pathogens that cause disease on a variety of plant species including the major crop potato. Pectobacteria are aggressive necrotrophs that harbor a large arsenal of plant cell wall-degrading enzymes as their primary virulence determinants. These enzymes together with additional virulence factors are employed to macerate the host tissue and promote host cell death to provide nutrients for the pathogens. In contrast to (hemi)biotrophs such as Pseudomonas, type III secretion systems (T3SS) and T3 effectors do not appear central to pathogenesis of pectobacteria. Indeed, recent genomic analysis of several Pectobacterium species including the emerging pathogen Pectobacterium wasabiae has shown that many strains lack the entire T3SS as well as the T3 effectors. Instead, this analysis has indicated the presence of novel virulence determinants. Resistance to broad host range pectobacteria is complex and does not appear to involve single resistance genes. Instead, activation of plant innate immunity systems including both SA (salicylic acid) and JA (jasmonic acid)/ET (ethylene)-mediated defenses appears to play a central role in attenuation of Pectobacterium virulence. These defenses are triggered by detection of pathogen-associated molecular patterns (PAMPs) or recognition of modified-self such as damage-associated molecular patterns (DAMPs) and result in enhancement of basal immunity (PAMP/DAMP-triggered immunity or pattern-triggered immunity, PTI). In particular plant cell wall fragments released by the action of the degradative enzymes secreted by pectobacteria are major players in enhanced immunity toward these pathogens. Most notably bacterial pectin-degrading enzymes release oligogalacturonide (OG) fragments recognized as DAMPs activating innate immune responses. Recent progress in understanding OG recognition and signaling allows novel genetic screens for OG-insensitive mutants and will provide new insights into plant defense strategies against necrotrophs such as pectobacteria.


DAMPs and PAMPs; Pectobacterium; cell wall-degrading enzymes; genetics; genomics; necrotrophs; oligogalacturonides; plant hormones

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