Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences

, Volume 64, Issue 21, pp 2726–2732 | Cite as

How plants recognize pathogens and defend themselves

  • P. J. G. M. de WitEmail author
Visions & Reflections (Minireview)


Plants have an innate immunity system to defend themselves against pathogens. With the primary immune system, plants recognize microbe-associated molecular patterns (MAMPs) of potential pathogens through pattern recognition receptors (PRRs) that mediate a basal defense response. Plant pathogens suppress this basal defense response by means of effectors that enable them to cause disease. With the secondary immune system, plants have gained the ability to recognize effector-induced perturbations of host targets through resistance proteins (RPs) that mediate a strong local defense response that stops pathogen growth. Both primary and secondary immune responses in plants depend on germ line-encoded PRRs and RPs. During induction of local immune responses, systemic immune responses also become activated, which predispose plants to become more resistant to subsequent pathogen attacks. This review gives an update on recent findings that have enhanced our understanding of plant innate immunity and the arms race between plants and their pathogens.


MAMP plant innate immunity microbial effector infection local and systemic resistance guard model 


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Copyright information

© Birkhaueser 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratory of Phytopathology and Wageningen Centre for Biosystems GenomicsWageningen UniversityWageningenThe Netherlands

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