Annual Review of Phytopathology (2020) 58, 55-75

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Maren L. Friesen (2020)
Social evolution and cheating in plant pathogens
Annual Review of Phytopathology 58, 55-75
Abstract: Plant pathogens are a critical component of the microbiome that exist as populations undergoing ecological and evolutionary processes within their host. Many aspects of virulence rely on social interactions mediated through multiple forms of public goods, including quorum-sensing signals, exoenzymes, and effectors. Virulence and disease progression involve life-history decisions that have social implications with large effects on both host and microbe fitness, such as the timing of key transitions. Considering the molecular basis of sequential stages of plant–pathogen interactions highlights many opportunities for pathogens to cheat, and there is evidence for ample variation in virulence. Case studies reveal systems where cheating has been demonstrated and others where it is likely occurring. Harnessing the social interactions of pathogens, along with leveraging novel sensing and -omics technologies to understand microbial fitness in the field, will enable us to better manage plant microbiomes in the interest of plant health.
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