PerspectivePlant Science

Genome Evolution in Plant Pathogens

Science  10 Dec 2010:
Vol. 330, Issue 6010, pp. 1486-1487
DOI: 10.1126/science.1200245

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Summary

Food security is of global importance and crop diseases caused by plant pathogens are a major constraint to agriculture worldwide. Many of these pathogens have a similar biotrophic life stage during which they contact host cells and secrete effector proteins that alter plant responses to infection (1). In this issue, comparative genomics studies of closely related pathogen species by Raffaele et al. on page 1540 (2), Baxter et al. on page 1549 (3), Spanu et al. on page 1543 (4), and Schirawski et al. on page 1546 (5) reveal that such effector proteins evolve rapidly and that their diversity contributes to host range and parasite speciation.