, Volume 122, Issue 1, pp 91-109,
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Natural history of Arabidopsis thaliana and oomycete symbioses

Abstract

Molecular ecology of plant–microbe interactions has immediate significance for filling a gap in knowledge between the laboratory discipline of molecular biology and the largely theoretical discipline of evolutionary ecology. Somewhere in between lies conservation biology, aimed at protection of habitats and the diversity of species housed within them. A seemingly insignificant wildflower called Arabidopsis thaliana has an important contribution to make in this endeavour. It has already transformed botanical research with deepening understanding of molecular processes within the species and across the Plant Kingdom; and has begun to revolutionize plant breeding by providing an invaluable catalogue of gene sequences that can be used to design the most precise molecular markers attainable for marker-assisted selection of valued traits. This review describes how A. thaliana and two of its natural biotrophic parasites could be seminal as a model for exploring the biogeography and molecular ecology of plant–microbe interactions, and specifically, for testing hypotheses proposed from the geographic mosaic theory of co-evolution.