Effectors as molecular probes to uncover the Mechanisms of microbial accommodation inside the plant cells
Many filamentous plant pathogens including fungi and oomycetes are accommodated within the host cells through specialized cellular structures. For instance, some filamentous plant pathogens form specialized infection structures termed haustoria to deliver effector proteins that can modulate host immunity or mediate nutrient uptake. However, little is known about molecular mechanisms underlying microbial accommodation inside the plant cells. Our aim is to characterize the host processes required for accommodation of filamentous plant pathogens inside the plant cells with a specific focus on illustrating the role of plant endomembrane transport system and identify perturbations caused by the pathogens.
These processes have been difficult to dissect using standard genetic approaches due to overlap between focal immunity and plant development. We recently discovered that some of the Pathogen secreted effectors specifically accumulate around haustoria (perihaustorial effectors) and provide an excellent alternative to study plant focal immunity (Bozkurt et al., 2011, Saunders et al., 2012).
We deploy perihaustorial effectors as molecular probes and use a multifaceted approach including cell biology, biochemical and genetic methods to investigate the mechanisms and perturbations in host endomembrane system within the plant cells that accommodate haustoria.
We mainly use haustoria forming oomycete pathogens such as Phytophthora infestans and Peronospora tabacina as well as some fungal species, which can infect the model solanaceous plant Nicotiana benthamiana.
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