Modulating host homeostasis as a strategy in the plant-pathogen arms race

Natalia Gottig, Betiana S. Garavaglia, Lucas D. Daurelio, Alex Valentine, Chris Gehring, Elena G. Orellano, Jorgelina Ottado*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


In plant-pathogen interactions, pathogens aim to overcome host defense responses while plants employ a battery of responses to limit pathogen growth and thus disease. In this "arms race" between hosts and pathogens, horizontal gene transfer is a potent source of 'pathogenic innovation' for viruses and bacteria. However, bacteria rarely acquire 'eukaryotic-like' genes from their hosts, and where they appear to, evidence for a role of the acquired genes remains outstanding. We have recently reported experimental evidence that the citrus canker causing pathogen Xanthomonas axonopodis pv. citri contains a plant natriuretic peptide-like gene (XacPNP) that encodes a protein that modulates host homeostasis to its advantage. We argue that Xanthomonas PNP has been acquired in an ancient horizontal gene transfer, and given that plant and bacterial PNPs trigger a number of similar physiological responses, we make a case of molecular mimicry. Released XacPNP mimics host PNP and results in a suppressed host response, "improved" host tissue health and consequently better pathogen survival in the lesions. Finally, we propose that Xanthomonas axonopodis pv. citri host interactions can serve as model system to study the role of host homeostasis in plant defense against biotrophic pathogens.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)89-90
Number of pages2
JournalCommunicative and Integrative Biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Citrus canker
  • Horizontal gene transfer
  • Plant natriuretic peptide
  • Plant-pathogen interaction
  • Xanthomonas

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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