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Arabidopsis thaliana as a Model Organism to Study Plant-Pathogen Interactions

  • Shachi Agrawal
Chapter

Abstract

Arabidopsis thaliana (a crucifer) provides a model system in every discipline of plant sciences including plant pathology with a varied array of molecular and genetic resources and biological information. Members of crucifer are widely distributed geographically and are well adapted to various plant pathogens such as fungi, bacteria, viruses, and nematodes. Besides small plant size, short life cycle, small genome size, availability of whole genome sequence, and easy genetic and mutational analysis, its response to the pathogen attack in a similar fashion as other higher plant species and an extensive collection of mutants available to determine defense pathway are the characteristics, which identify this plant as an indispensable research model in plant-pathogen interaction studies. This chapter mainly focuses on various existing model pathosystems of Arabidopsis with viral, bacterial, and fungal pathogens including an outlook on how this knowledge can be translated from Arabidopsis-pathogen model system to other crop plants. A general and brief overview of plant-pathogen interactions and how A. thaliana recognize and respond to pathogens is also portrayed.

Keywords

Effector molecules Hypersensitive response (HR) Plant defense Plant defensin gene PR proteins Resistance genes Signal molecules Systemic acquired resistance (SAR) 

Notes

Glossary

Avirulence (Avr) protein

Small proteins produced by pathogens and recognized by the host cell resistance proteins. These proteins trigger defense responses in plants. Avr proteins are often type III secretion system effectors, involved in pathogenicity.

Basal defense

Plant defense that occurs early in the host-pathogen interaction in response to the perception by plant pattern recognition receptors of microbial-associated molecular patterns (MAMPs). Basal defense is MAMP-triggered immunity (MTI) plus weak effector-triggered immunity (ETI), minus effector-triggered susceptibility (ETS).

Biotroph

A pathogen that colonizes living tissues for its growth and reproduction.

Effector molecules

Pathogen-produced molecules that interfere with and suppress plant defense mechanisms, e.g., bacterial proteins, delivered by the bacterial type III secretion system (TTSS) to the plant cell interior.

Effector-triggered immunity (ETI)

Immune responses triggered by recognition of specific pathogen effectors. The ETI response relies on R genes. Plant ETI often causes an apoptotic hypersensitive response.

Effector-triggered susceptibility (ETS)

The state of a plant in which the plant’s defense mechanism become suppressed by pathogen effector molecules.

Elicitor

Any metabolite isolated from pathogens that at a very low concentration induces a hypersensitive response in host plants.

Hypersensitive response (HR)

A complex defense response that is often associated with resistance (R) protein-mediated immunity. HR culminates in programmed cell death in cells in the vicinity of the pathogen, which may inhibit pathogen spreading.

MAMP-triggered immunity (MTI)

Immunity raised after recognition of MAMPs by pattern recognition receptors (PRRs) localized on the surface of plant cells.

Microbial-associated molecular patterns (MAMPs)

More recent term used for PAMPs. A series of essential and conserved molecular motifs of both pathogenic and nonpathogenic microbes that can be recognized by pattern recognition receptors in plants.

Necrotroph

A pathogen that rapidly kills the host tissue and feeds on the dead tissue.

PAMP-triggered immunity (PTI)

Immunity raised from the interaction of pattern recognition receptors (PRRs) in plant cells with elicitor molecules. It is a part of the first line of defense and results in a basal level of resistance.

Pathogen-associated molecular patterns (PAMPs)

A set of molecular structures (epitopes) not shared with the host but shared by related pathogens, relatively invariant.

Pathogenesis-related (PR) genes

Plant genes that activates after infection by pathogens.

Pathogenesis-related (PR) proteins

Plant proteins that are synthesized in response to microbial attack and that serve to limit the growth pathogens. They are induced as a part of systemic acquired resistance.

Pattern recognition receptors (PRRs)

Germ line-encoded proteins that can recognize microbe-associated molecular patterns and induce signaling cascade in innate immunity responses.

Plant defensin (PDF)

Small, highly stable, cysteine-rich peptides that constitute a part of the innate immune system, mostly involved in defense against a broad range of fungal pathogens.

R genes and R proteins

Plants have R genes (resistance genes) whose products mediate resistance to specific microbes, e.g., virus, bacteria, fungus, oomycete, nematode, etc. The product of R gene is R protein that allows recognition of specific pathogen effectors, either through direct binding or by recognition of the effector’s alteration of a host protein.

Systemic acquired resistance (SAR)

Inducible whole-body resistance. The development of a general immune capacity throughout the entire plant following an initial invasion by a pathogen.

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© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of BotanyGargi CollegeNew DelhiIndia

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