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Recognitional Specificity and Evolution in the Tomato--Cladosporium fulvum Pathosystem

October 2009 , Volume 22 , Number  10
Pages  1,191 - 1,202

B. B. H. Wulff,1 A. Chakrabarti,2,3 and D. A. Jones2

1Institut de Biologie Moléculaire des Plantes (IBMP--CNRS), 12 rue du Général Zimmer, 67084 Strasbourg, France; 2Research School of Biology, The Australian National University, Canberra ACT 0200, Australia; 3CSIRO Plant Industry, GPO Box 1600, Canberra ACT 2601, Australia

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Accepted 16 July 2009.

The interactions between plants and many biotrophic or hemibiotrophic pathogens are controlled by receptor proteins in the host and effector proteins delivered by the pathogen. Pathogen effectors facilitate pathogen growth through the suppression of host defenses and the manipulation of host metabolism, but recognition of a pathogen-effector protein by a host receptor enables the host to activate a suite of defense mechanisms that limit pathogen growth. In the tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum syn. Solanum lycopersicum)--Cladosporium fulvum (leaf mold fungus syn. Passalora fulva) pathosystem, the host receptors are plasma membrane--anchored, leucine-rich repeat, receptor-like proteins encoded by an array of Cf genes conferring resistance to C. fulvum. The pathogen effectors are mostly small, secreted, cysteine-rich, but otherwise largely dissimilar, extracellular proteins encoded by an array of avirulence (Avr) genes, so called because of their ability to trigger resistance and limit pathogen growth when the corresponding Cf gene is present in tomato. A number of Cf and Avr genes have been isolated, and details of the complex molecular interplay between tomato Cf proteins and C. fulvum effector proteins are beginning to emerge. Each effector appears to have a different role; probably most bind or modify different host proteins, but at least one has a passive role masking the pathogen. It is, therefore, not surprising that each effector is probably detected in a distinct and specific manner, some by direct binding, others as complexes with host proteins, and others via their modification of host proteins. The two papers accompanying this review contribute further to our understanding of the molecular specificity underlying effector perception by Cf proteins. This review, therefore, focuses on our current understanding of recognitional specificity in the tomato--C. fulvum pathosystem and highlights some of the critical questions that remain to be addressed. It also addresses the evolutionary causes and consequences of this specificity.

© 2009 The American Phytopathological Society