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Curr Opin Plant Biol. 2014 Apr;18:24-30. doi: 10.1016/j.pbi.2013.12.003. Epub 2014 Feb 1.

Genomic variability as a driver of plant-pathogen coevolution?

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University of Chicago, Chicago, IL 60637, USA; Committee on Genetics, Genomics and Systems Biology.
Gregor Mendel Institute, Dr. Bohr-Gasse 3, 1030 Vienna, Austria.
University of Chicago, Chicago, IL 60637, USA; Department of Ecology & Evolution. Electronic address:


Pathogens apply one of the strongest selective pressures in plant populations. Understanding plant-pathogen coevolution has therefore been a major research focus for at least sixty years [1]. Recent comparative genomic studies have revealed that the genes involved in plant defense and pathogen virulence are among the most polymorphic in the respective genomes. Which fraction of this diversity influences the host-pathogen interaction? Do coevolutionary dynamics maintain variation? Here we review recent literature on the evolutionary and molecular processes that shape this variation, focusing primarily on gene-for-gene interactions. In summarizing theoretical and empirical studies of the processes that shape this variation in natural plant and pathogen populations, we find a disconnect between the complexity of ecological interactions involving hosts and their myriad microbes, and the models that describe them.

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