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Mineral Nutrition and Plant Immunity: Unravelling the Molecular Mechanisms of Cross Talk and Coordination

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Two essential agricultural inputs have been representing major issues in recent years: pesticides and fertilizers. The use of pesticides to protect plants from biotic stresses causes important human and environmental threats. The use of fertilizers to reach required yields causes soil and underground water ...

Two essential agricultural inputs have been representing major issues in recent years: pesticides and fertilizers. The use of pesticides to protect plants from biotic stresses causes important human and environmental threats. The use of fertilizers to reach required yields causes soil and underground water contamination. Thus, both mineral nutrition and plant tolerance to pathogen attacks must be taken into account for plant breeding and agricultural practices in the near future.

In addition to growth and development, plants must adapt to environmental stresses such as pathogen attacks. To defend themselves against pathogens, plants accumulate antimicrobial compounds, strengthen their cell walls and activate stress-signaling cascades. Plant defense mechanisms can be affected by mineral nutrition. Conversely, pathogens can disturb the plant mineral homeostasis and/or compete for some minerals. Limited mineral availability in some phases of pathogen cycles can be a signal triggering virulence.

Several studies have shown that mineral nutrition (either micronutrients or macronutrients) can have dramatic effects on pathogen caused losses on the field. However, the underlying mechanisms are poorly understood. In the last decade, important advances were made in the characterization of genes involved in mineral homeostasis (uptake, translocation, storage, regulation). Consequently, several genetic and molecular tools have been developed in model plants like Arabidopsis and barley that could be used to investigate the role of such genes in plant interactions with pathogens. Owing to the high throughput genotyping and phenotyping techniques, the exploration of natural diversity in terms of mineral profiles (ionomic profiles) and tolerance to pathogens could provide valuable data on the possible correlations between mineral uptake capacities of a genotype and its tolerance to a biotic stress. To cope with mineral needs and protect themselves against pathogens, plants benefit from microbes that colonize their rhizosphere, phyllosphere as well as from endophytic microbes. Some of these microorganisms enhance both plant nutrition and immunity. The molecular characterization of the underlying cross talk mechanisms between these two processes could be of great value to optimize their use. Invading pathogens use different strategies to obtain minerals from their hosts and can use the host mineral contents as a signal to activate virulence factors making some of the virulence factors potential targets for disease control. Alternatively, they can compete with the beneficial microflora for some minerals. Thus, investigating the mechanisms involving mineral uptake by pathogens can be of great interest to have a comprehensive view of the overall process involving minerals as key players in plant health.

Potential contributors are welcome to submit review or original papers. Potential topics include investigating:
• Role of plant genes involved in mineral homeostasis in plant-pathogen interactions including in the regulation of the molecular processes of plant immunity (effector triggered immunity, pattern triggered immunity).
• Mechanisms by which mineral nutrition affects disease susceptibility/resistance.
• Correlations between mineral nutrition capacities and susceptibility/resistance by exploring natural diversity
• Mechanisms underlying the capacity of a beneficial microbe or microbial community to enhance both tolerance to biotic stresses and mineral nutrition efficiency.


Keywords: Plant Pathogens, Mineral Nutrition, Mineral Homeostasis, Immunity, Virulence, Ionomics, Natural Variation, Functional Genomics


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