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Summary

Biotrophic plant pathogenic fungi are one of the major causes of crop losses. The infection processes they exhibit are typified by infected host plant cells remaining alive for several days. This requires the development of specialized infection structures such as haustoria which are produced by obligate biotrophs, and intracellular hyphae which are produced by many hemibiotrophs. These infection hyphae are surrounded by the host plant plasma membrane, and in the case of haustoria the extrahaustorial membrane differs biochemically and structurally from the normal membrane. An interfacial matrix separates haustoria and intracellular hyphae from the invaginated membrane and this seems to be characteristic of biotrophic interactions. There is clear evidence for molecular differentiation of the haustorial plasma membrane in powdery mildews and rusts in comparison with the other fungal membranes. Relatively few pathogenicity genes related to biotrophy, and the switch from biotrophy to necrotrophy in hemibiotrophs, have been identified.