Fungal effector proteins: past, present and future

Authors

  • PIERRE J. G. M. DE WIT,

    Corresponding author
    1. Wageningen University and Research Centre, Laboratory of Phytopathology, Droevendaalsesteeg 1, 6708 PB Wageningen, the Netherlands
    2. Centre for Biosystems Genomics, CBSG2012, P.O. Box 98, 6700 AB Wageningen, the Netherlands
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  • RAHIM MEHRABI,

    1. Wageningen University and Research Centre, Laboratory of Phytopathology, Droevendaalsesteeg 1, 6708 PB Wageningen, the Netherlands
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  • HARROLD A. VAN DEN BURG,

    1. Wageningen University and Research Centre, Laboratory of Phytopathology, Droevendaalsesteeg 1, 6708 PB Wageningen, the Netherlands
    2. Centre for Biosystems Genomics, CBSG2012, P.O. Box 98, 6700 AB Wageningen, the Netherlands
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  • IOANNIS STERGIOPOULOS

    1. Wageningen University and Research Centre, Laboratory of Phytopathology, Droevendaalsesteeg 1, 6708 PB Wageningen, the Netherlands
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*E-mail: pierre.dewit@wur.nl

SUMMARY

The pioneering research of Harold Flor on flax and the flax rust fungus culminated in his gene-for-gene hypothesis. It took nearly 50 years before the first fungal avirulence (Avr) gene in support of his hypothesis was cloned. Initially, fungal Avr genes were identified by reverse genetics and map-based cloning from model organisms, but, currently, the availability of many sequenced fungal genomes allows their cloning from additional fungi by a combination of comparative and functional genomics. It is believed that most Avr genes encode effectors that facilitate virulence by suppressing pathogen-associated molecular pattern-triggered immunity and induce effector-triggered immunity in plants containing cognate resistance proteins. In resistant plants, effectors are directly or indirectly recognized by cognate resistance proteins that reside either on the plasma membrane or inside the plant cell. Indirect recognition of an effector (also known as the guard model) implies that the virulence target of an effector in the host (the guardee) is guarded by the resistance protein (the guard) that senses manipulation of the guardee, leading to activation of effector-triggered immunity. In this article, we review the literature on fungal effectors and some pathogen-associated molecular patterns, including those of some fungi for which no gene-for-gene relationship has been established.

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