Article: The Plant Journal

Know your Enemy, Embrace your Friend: Using omics to understand how plants respond differently to pathogenic and mutualistic microorganisms JM Plett, FM Martin. The Plant Journal


Micro-organisms, or ‘microbes’, have formed intimate associations with plants throughout the length of their evolutionary history. In extant plant systems microbes still remain an integral part of the ecological landscape impacting plant health, productivity, and long-term fitness. Therefore, to properly understand the genetic wiring of plants, we must first determine what perception systems plants have evolved to parse beneficial from commensal from pathogenic microbes. In this review, we consider some of the most recent advances in how plants respond at the molecular level to different microbial lifestyles. Further, we cover some of the means by which microbes are able to manipulate plant signaling pathways through altered destructiveness and nutrient sinks as well as the use of effector proteins and miRNA’s. We conclude by highlighting some of the major questions still to be answered in the field of plant-microbe research and suggest some of key areas that most need further research investment. The results of these proposed studies will have impacts in a wide range of plant research disciplines and will, ultimately, translate into stronger agronomic crops and forestry stock whose immune perception and response system is bred to foster beneficial microbial symbioses while repudiating pathogenic symbioses.