Gate control: guard cell regulation by microbial stress





Terrestrial plants rely on stomata, small pores in the leaf surface, for photosynthetic gas exchange and transpiration of water. The stomata, formed by a pair of guard cells, dynamically increase and decrease their volume to control the pore size in response to environmental cues. Stresses can trigger similar or opposing movements: for example, drought induces closure of stomata, whereas many pathogens exploit stomata and cause them to open to facilitate entry into plant tissues. The latter is an active process as stomatal closure is part of the plant's immune response. Stomatal research has contributed much to clarify the signalling pathways of abiotic stress, but guard cell signalling in response to microbes is a relatively new area of research. In this article, we discuss present knowledge of stomatal regulation in response to microbes and highlight common points of convergence, and differences, compared to stomatal regulation by abiotic stresses. We also expand on the mechanisms by which pathogens manipulate these processes to promote disease, for example by delivering effectors to inhibit closure or trigger opening of stomata. The study of pathogen effectors in stomatal manipulation will aid our understanding of guard cell signalling.