1Plant-Pathogen Interactions Division, Rothamsted Research, Harpenden, AL5 2JQ, U.K.; 2Biomathematics and Bioinformatics Division, Rothamsted Research, Harpenden, AL5 2JQ, U.K.
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Accepted 12 June 2006.
Fungal and oomycete pathogens of plants and animals are a major global problem. In the last 15 years, many genes required for pathogenesis have been determined for over 50 different species. Other studies have characterized effector genes (previously termed avirulence genes) required to activate host responses. By studying these types of pathogen genes, novel targets for control can be revealed. In this report, we describe the Pathogen-Host Interactions database (PHI-base), which systematically compiles such pathogenicity genes involved in pathogen-host interactions. Here, we focus on the biology that underlies this computational resource: the nature of pathogen-host interactions, the experimental methods that exist for the characterization of such pathogen-host interactions as well as the available computational resources. Based on the data, we review and analyze the specific functions of pathogenicity genes, the host-specific nature of pathogenicity and virulence genes, and the generic mechanisms of effectors that trigger plant responses. We further discuss the utilization of PHI-base for the computational identification of pathogenicity genes through comparative genomics. In this context, the importance of standardizing pathogenicity assays as well as integrating databases to aid comparative genomics is discussed.
© 2006 The American Phytopathological Society