Plant defense against pathogens
Delaney, Terrence P. Department of Plant Biology, University of Vermont, Burlington, Vermont.
- Coevolution of host resistance and pathogen virulence traits
- Passive defenses
- Active defenses
- Resistance proteins
- Systemic acquired resistance
- Links to Primary Literature
- Additional Readings
Land plants diversified over 360 million years ago. This occurred well after the bacteria and fungi, which have a much more ancient origin. Although few fossils record the coexistence of plants and pathogens, early Devonian (400 million-year-old) Rhynie Chert (a fossil bed of hard, dense, sedimentary rock composed of fine-grained silica located near the village of Rhynie, Scotland) contains plant fossils that display symptoms of disease and harbor ascomycete fungal reproductive structures, indicating an ancient and potentially parasitic association between these organisms. Additional evidence of a long coevolution between plants and their pathogens is found in the highly specialized and elaborate infection and invasion structures produced by pathogens, as well as the elaborate and specialized defense systems that plants possess. In addition, recent plant and microbial genome analyses have revealed the existence of large families of plant genes that play roles in pathogen detection and defense, as well as pathogen genes that are important in virulence, providing additional evidence for the coevolution of plants and pathogens.
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