During the past decade, many genomes have been sequenced from fungal and oomycete pathogens that interact biotrophically with plants, i.e. they thrive at least initially on living plant tissue. This has revealed genomes that often encode hundreds of proteins predicted to be secreted on the basis of N‐terminal signal peptides. Most of these proteins are unique or found only within restricted phylogenetic clades (Franceschetti et al., ). They are predicted to be ‘effectors’, i.e. proteins which, in some way, contribute to the virulence of the pathogen (see below). The fact that these filamentous microbes have hundreds of candidate effector genes is in stark contrast with bacterial pathogens, which typically have an order of magnitude fewer effector candidate genes. Although most of these hundreds of effectors currently lack evidence for significant roles in virulence, it is still striking that many of them appear to contribute measurably to virulence and that several of them seem to physically interact with numerous host proteins. In this Opinion Piece, we discuss these observations and attempt to address the apparent need for hundreds of effector candidate genes in these species. We suggest that this requirement reflects, in part, the need for effectors to target defence‐unrelated susceptibility
Molecular Plant Pathology – Wiley
Published: Jan 1, 2018
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