Plant Pathology Department


Date of this Version



Annu. Rev. Phytopathol. 2004. 42:385–414


Copyright © 2004 by Annual Reviews.

doi: 10.1146/annurev.phyto.42.040103.110731


Many phytopathogenic bacteria inject virulence effector proteins into plant cells via a Hrp type III secretion system (TTSS). Without the TTSS, these pathogens cannot defeat basal defenses, grow in plants, produce disease lesions in hosts, or elicit the hypersensitive response (HR) in nonhosts. Pathogen genome projects employing bioinformatic methods to identify TTSS Hrp regulon promoters and TTSS pathway targeting signals suggest that phytopathogenic Pseudomonas, Xanthomonas, and Ralstonia spp. harbor large arsenals of effectors. The Hrp TTSS employs cus- tomized cytoplasmic chaperones, conserved export components in the bacterial en- velope (also used by the TTSS of animal pathogens), and a more specialized set of TTSS-secreted proteins to deliver effectors across the plant cell wall and plasma mem- brane. Many effectors can act as molecular double agents that betray the pathogen to plant defenses in some interactions and suppress host defenses in others. Investigations of the functions of effectors within plant cells have demonstrated the plasma membrane and nucleus as subcellular sites for several effectors, revealed some effectors to possess cysteine protease or protein tyrosine phosphatase activity, and provided new clues to the coevolution of bacterium-plant interactions.