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Unravelling Plant–Microbe Interactions: from ecology to mechanisms

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The history of plant pathology has been tailored as results of efforts to identify pathogens and by advances on the ecology of disease-inciting microorganisms, host-pathogen interactions, and control methods. Indeed, the more plant-microbe interactions are studied, the more complexities and diversities are ...

The history of plant pathology has been tailored as results of efforts to identify pathogens and by advances on the ecology of disease-inciting microorganisms, host-pathogen interactions, and control methods. Indeed, the more plant-microbe interactions are studied, the more complexities and diversities are discerned in their underlying mechanisms. The interplay between microbes and their hosts is more than just a series of puzzles for plant biologists to unravel since for the plant it can be a matter of life or death. Undeniably, long periods of coevolution between plants and microbes have led to complex mechanisms of offense and defence which center on the innate immune system of host plants competing against virulence determinants of pathogens.
Both above- and underground plant organs are frequently exposed to intimate contacts with a plethora of microorganisms, including members of phyla as diverse as viruses, bacteria, oomycetes, fungi, and eukaryotic protozoans. The outcome of interactions between plants and these microbial communities can be neutral, detrimental or even beneficial for the plants.
Many plant pathogens produce toxins with broad-spectrum activity to defend their habitat and to infect plants. As a consequence, plants respond with a range of specific defence mechanisms to resist pathogen penetration and subsequent infection. The molecular events taking place between plants and both ‘friendly’ and ‘hostile’ microbes trigger a range of highly dynamic plant cellular responses. They may be crucial for pathogen recognition and the induction of adequate defence signal transduction pathways in the plant.
Why do some microbes attack certain plants but not others? Is it because these microbes lack the weapons required to infect certain plants or because some plants are equipped with better arsenals to counteract the attack? Are they not attracted by the plant? How do plants defend themself following pathogen attack? How do plants interact with beneficial microorganisms? How do plant pathogens respond to antagonists and how can this affect the efficacy of biocontrol?
These are some of the areas that will be extended in this issue in order to cover some aspects of plant–microbe interactions.


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