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Keywords:

  • avirulence proteins;
  • rust;
  • haustoria;
  • mildew;
  • fungal effectors;
  • disease resistance

Abstract

A major insight that has emerged in the study of haustoria-forming plant pathogens over the last few years is that these eukaryotic biotrophs deliver suites of secreted proteins into host cells during infection. This insight has largely derived from successful efforts to identify avirulence (Avr) genes and their products from these pathogens. These Avr genes, identified from a rust and a powdery mildew fungus and three oomycete species, encode small proteins that are recognized by resistance proteins in the host plant cytoplasm, suggesting that they are transported inside plant cells during infection. These Avr proteins probably represent examples of fungal and oomycete effector proteins with important roles in subverting host cell biology during infection. In this respect, they represent a new opportunity to understand the basis of disease caused by these biotrophic pathogens. Elucidating how these pathogen proteins gain entry into plant cells and their biological function will be key questions for future research.