Clever phytopathogenic mechanisms for evading recognition

December 5, 2018

Shedding light on the co-evolution of plant and pathogen defenses

Plants and pathogens have co-evolved in their respective battles for survival. Phytopathogens successfully infect plants by secreting effector proteins that enter plant cells and suppress plant defense reactions. In turn, plants have evolved intracellular immunosensors that recognize effectors and can induce a powerful immune response known as hypersensitive response (HR) cell death.

In an international collaborative effort by RIKEN CSRS, the Sainsbury Laboratory in the UK and the University of California at Berkeley, researchers have discovered mechanisms by which phytopathogenic fungi evade host recognition to successfully establish an infection.

The research group identified an effector for the downy mildew pathogen Hyaloperonospora arabidopsidis (Hpa) for infiltrating Aradidopsis thaliana cells that is recognized by the plant’s intracellular sensors. They also clarified two mechanisms in Hpa isolates (suppressing effector expression and altering subcellular localization) that are used to avoid host plant detection.

The emergence of new pathogenic strains that can breach the defenses of resistant varieties is an ongoing issue in agricultural production. These research results are expected to contribute to the development of future disease-control methods.

Original article
Nature Communications doi:10.1038/s41467-018-07469-3
S. Asai, O. J. Furzer, V. Cevik, D. S. Kim, N. Ishaque, S. Goritschnig, B. J. Staskawicz, K. Shirasu, J. D.G. Jones,
"A downy mildew effector evades recognition by polymorphism of expression and subcellular localization".
Shuta Asai; Visiting Scientist
Ken Shirasu; Group Director
Plant Immunity Research Group