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Special Issue "Plant Defense against Pathogens and Herbivores"

A special issue of International Journal of Molecular Sciences (ISSN 1422-0067). This special issue belongs to the section "Molecular Plant Sciences".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 December 2021.

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Dr. Zhixiang Chen
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Botany and Plant Pathology, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907, USA
Interests: Plant defense mechanisms; transcriptional regulation of plant immune responses; autophagy; protein quality control; vesicle trafficking in plant stress responses

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

As sessile organisms, plants are constantly exposed to potential attack by pathogens and herbivores and have evolved a diverse array of mechanisms with defense roles.  Most prominent are chemical mechanisms of defense including toxic compounds, inhibitory proteins and deliberate cell suicide that plants use to deter or poison pathogens and herbivores.  Also important are physical or structural defenses including surface features such as trichomes, cuticle and cell wall that prevent their natural enemies from attacking on plant tissues.  Different defense mechanisms can be vastly different in effectiveness against different pests and pathogens and in some cases a highly effective defense mechanism against one type of pests or pathogens may aid attack by a different type of predators.  In addition, while plant defense mechanisms reduce damage and mortality caused by pathogens and herbivores, they cost plants in terms of energy and nutrients.  Therefore, deployment of appropriate plant defense mechanisms to the right place at the right time is critically important for effective protection against pathogens and herbivores without two heavy cost to plant fitness.  Furthermore, pathogens and herbivores are also evolving to counter plant-based defense strategies to ensure their survival and success in invading plants.  Research on elicitor recognition, signaling, gene regulation, mode of action of defense chemicals/proteins and the tug-of-war between plants and its natural enemies has been at the frontier over the past several decades in modern plant biology, which has greatly enriched our understanding of the molecular basis of effective plant defense.  Innovative approaches are also been developed to explore the basic knowledge of plant defense to develop strategies of genetic engineering and molecular breeding of pathogen- and herbivore-resistant crops.

We invite investigators to submit both original research and review articles that explore all the aspects of the plant defense against pathogens and herbivores.  Potential topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Elicitor recognition
  • Defense signaling
  • Local and systemic plant defense mechanisms
  • Induction and memory of plant defense mechanisms
  • Genetic and epigenetic regulation of plant defense
  • Gene expression associated with plant defense responses
  • Defense priming
  • Chemical defense
  • Plant surface and cell wall defense
  • Mode of action of defense-related chemicals and proteins
  • Counter-defense mechanisms by pathogens and herbivores
  • Genetic engineering of plant defense
  • Plant defense and fitness tradeoff

Prof. Dr. Zhixiang Chen
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. International Journal of Molecular Sciences is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. There is an Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal. For details about the APC please see here. Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Plant defense
  • plant-pathogen interactions
  • plant-pathogen interactions
  • plant disease resistance
  • phytoalexins
  • biotic stress.

Published Papers (7 papers)

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Research

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Article
Mastrevirus Rep and RepA Proteins Suppress de novo Transcriptional Gene Silencing
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22(21), 11462; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijms222111462 - 24 Oct 2021
Viewed by 373
Abstract
Transcriptional gene silencing (TGS) in plants is a defense mechanism against DNA virus infection. The genomes of viruses in the Geminiviridae family encode several TGS suppressors. In this study, we induced de novo TGS against the transgenic GFP gene encoding green fluorescent protein [...] Read more.
Transcriptional gene silencing (TGS) in plants is a defense mechanism against DNA virus infection. The genomes of viruses in the Geminiviridae family encode several TGS suppressors. In this study, we induced de novo TGS against the transgenic GFP gene encoding green fluorescent protein by expressing a hairpin-shaped self-complementary RNA corresponding to the enhancer region of the 35S promoter (hpE35S). In addition, we examined the TGS suppression activity of proteins encoded in the genome of Tobacco yellow dwarf virus (TYDV, genus Mastrevirus). The results show that the replication-associated protein (Rep) and RepA encoded by TYDV have TGS suppressor activity and lead to decreased accumulation of 24-nt siRNAs. These results suggest that Rep and RepA can block the steps before the loading of siRNAs into Argonaute (AGO) proteins. This is the first report of TGS suppressors in the genus Mastrevirus. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Plant Defense against Pathogens and Herbivores)
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Article
The Same against Many: AtCML8, a Ca2+ Sensor Acting as a Positive Regulator of Defense Responses against Several Plant Pathogens
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22(19), 10469; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijms221910469 - 28 Sep 2021
Viewed by 378
Abstract
Calcium signals are crucial for the activation and coordination of signaling cascades leading to the establishment of plant defense mechanisms. Here, we studied the contribution of CML8, an Arabidopsis calmodulin-like protein in response to Ralstonia solanacearum and to pathogens with different lifestyles, such [...] Read more.
Calcium signals are crucial for the activation and coordination of signaling cascades leading to the establishment of plant defense mechanisms. Here, we studied the contribution of CML8, an Arabidopsis calmodulin-like protein in response to Ralstonia solanacearum and to pathogens with different lifestyles, such as Xanthomonas campestris pv. campestris and Phytophtora capsici. We used pathogenic infection assays, gene expression, RNA-seq approaches, and comparative analysis of public data on CML8 knockdown and overexpressing Arabidopsis lines to demonstrate that CML8 contributes to defense mechanisms against pathogenic bacteria and oomycetes. CML8 gene expression is finely regulated at the root level and manipulated during infection with Ralstonia, and CML8 overexpression confers better plant tolerance. To understand the processes controlled by CML8, genes differentially expressed at the root level in the first hours of infection have been identified. Overexpression of CML8 also confers better tolerance against Xanthomonas and Phytophtora, and most of the genes differentially expressed in response to Ralstonia are differentially expressed in these different pathosystems. Collectively, CML8 acts as a positive regulator against Ralstonia solanaceraum and against other vascular or root pathogens, suggesting that CML8 is a multifunctional protein that regulates common downstream processes involved in the defense response of plants to several pathogens. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Plant Defense against Pathogens and Herbivores)
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Article
GhKWL1 Upregulates GhERF105 but Its Function Is Impaired by Binding with VdISC1, a Pathogenic Effector of Verticillium dahliae
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22(14), 7328; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijms22147328 - 08 Jul 2021
Viewed by 693
Abstract
Verticillium wilt, caused by Verticillium dahliae, is a devastating disease for many important crops, including cotton. Kiwellins (KWLs), a group of cysteine-rich proteins synthesized in many plants, have been shown to be involved in response to various phytopathogens. To evaluate genes for [...] Read more.
Verticillium wilt, caused by Verticillium dahliae, is a devastating disease for many important crops, including cotton. Kiwellins (KWLs), a group of cysteine-rich proteins synthesized in many plants, have been shown to be involved in response to various phytopathogens. To evaluate genes for their function in resistance to Verticillium wilt, we investigated KWL homologs in cotton. Thirty-five KWL genes (GhKWLs) were identified from the genome of upland cotton (Gossypium hirsutum). Among them, GhKWL1 was shown to be localized in nucleus and cytosol, and its gene expression is induced by the infection of V. dahliae. We revealed that GhKWL1 was a positive regulator of GhERF105. Silencing of GhKWL1 resulted in a decrease, whereas overexpression led to an increase in resistance of transgenic plants to Verticillium wilt. Interestingly, through binding to GhKWL1, the pathogenic effector protein VdISC1 produced by V. dahliae could impair the defense response mediated by GhKWL1. Therefore, our study suggests there is a GhKWL1-mediated defense response in cotton, which can be hijacked by V. dahliae through the interaction of VdISC1 with GhKWL1. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Plant Defense against Pathogens and Herbivores)
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Article
Fatty Acid Desaturases: Uncovering Their Involvement in Grapevine Defence against Downy Mildew
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22(11), 5473; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijms22115473 - 22 May 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 600
Abstract
Grapevine downy mildew, caused by the biotrophic oomycete Plasmopara viticola, is one of the most severe and devastating diseases in viticulture. Unravelling the grapevine defence mechanisms is crucial to develop sustainable disease control measures. Here we provide new insights concerning fatty acid’s [...] Read more.
Grapevine downy mildew, caused by the biotrophic oomycete Plasmopara viticola, is one of the most severe and devastating diseases in viticulture. Unravelling the grapevine defence mechanisms is crucial to develop sustainable disease control measures. Here we provide new insights concerning fatty acid’s (FA) desaturation, a fundamental process in lipid remodelling and signalling. Previously, we have provided evidence that lipid signalling is essential in the establishment of the incompatible interaction between grapevine and Plasmopara viticola. In the first hours after pathogen challenge, jasmonic acid (JA) accumulation, activation of its biosynthetic pathway and an accumulation of its precursor, the polyunsaturated α-linolenic acid (C18:3), were observed in the leaves of the tolerant genotype, Regent. This work was aimed at a better comprehension of the desaturation processes occurring after inoculation. We characterised, for the first time in Vitis vinifera, the gene family of the FA desaturases and evaluated their involvement in Regent response to Plasmopara viticola. Upon pathogen challenge, an up-regulation of the expression of plastidial FA desaturases genes was observed, resulting in a higher content of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) of chloroplast lipids. This study highlights FA desaturases as key players in membrane remodelling and signalling in grapevine defence towards biotrophic pathogens. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Plant Defense against Pathogens and Herbivores)
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Article
A Breach in Plant Defences: Pseudomonas syringae pv. actinidiae Targets Ethylene Signalling to Overcome Actinidia chinensis Pathogen Responses
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22(9), 4375; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijms22094375 - 22 Apr 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 796
Abstract
Ethylene interacts with other plant hormones to modulate many aspects of plant metabolism, including defence and stomata regulation. Therefore, its manipulation may allow plant pathogens to overcome the host’s immune responses. This work investigates the role of ethylene as a virulence factor for [...] Read more.
Ethylene interacts with other plant hormones to modulate many aspects of plant metabolism, including defence and stomata regulation. Therefore, its manipulation may allow plant pathogens to overcome the host’s immune responses. This work investigates the role of ethylene as a virulence factor for Pseudomonas syringae pv. actinidiae (Psa), the aetiological agent of the bacterial canker of kiwifruit. The pandemic, highly virulent biovar of this pathogen produces ethylene, whereas the biovars isolated in Japan and Korea do not. Ethylene production is modulated in planta by light/dark cycle. Exogenous ethylene application stimulates bacterial virulence, and restricts or increases host colonisation if performed before or after inoculation, respectively. The deletion of a gene, unrelated to known bacterial biosynthetic pathways and putatively encoding for an oxidoreductase, abolishes ethylene production and reduces the pathogen growth rate in planta. Ethylene production by Psa may be a recently and independently evolved virulence trait in the arms race against the host. Plant- and pathogen-derived ethylene may concur in the activation/suppression of immune responses, in the chemotaxis toward a suitable entry point, or in the endophytic colonisation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Plant Defense against Pathogens and Herbivores)
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Article
Nucleotide-Binding Leucine-Rich Repeat Genes CsRSF1 and CsRSF2 Are Positive Modulators in the Cucumis sativus Defense Response to Sphaerotheca fuliginea
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22(8), 3986; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijms22083986 - 13 Apr 2021
Viewed by 538
Abstract
Cucumber powdery mildew caused by Sphaerotheca fuliginea is a leaf disease that seriously affects cucumber’s yield and quality. This study aimed to report two nucleotide-binding site-leucine-rich repeats (NBS-LRR) genes CsRSF1 and CsRSF2, which participated in regulating the resistance of cucumber to S. [...] Read more.
Cucumber powdery mildew caused by Sphaerotheca fuliginea is a leaf disease that seriously affects cucumber’s yield and quality. This study aimed to report two nucleotide-binding site-leucine-rich repeats (NBS-LRR) genes CsRSF1 and CsRSF2, which participated in regulating the resistance of cucumber to S. fuliginea. The subcellular localization showed that the CsRSF1 protein was localized in the nucleus, cytoplasm, and cell membrane, while the CsRSF2 protein was localized in the cell membrane and cytoplasm. In addition, the transcript levels of CsRSF1 and CsRSF2 were different between resistant and susceptible cultivars after treatment with exogenous substances, such as abscisic acid (ABA), methyl jasmonate (MeJA), salicylic acid (SA), ethephon (ETH), gibberellin (GA) and hydrogen peroxide (H2O2). The expression analysis showed that the transcript levels of CsRSF1 and CsRSF2 were correlated with plant defense response against S. fuliginea. Moreover, the silencing of CsRSF1 and CsRSF2 impaired host resistance to S. fuliginea, but CsRSF1 and CsRSF2 overexpression improved resistance to S. fuliginea in cucumber. These results showed that CsRSF1 and CsRSF2 genes positively contributed to the resistance of cucumber to S. fuliginea. At the same time, CsRSF1 and CsRSF2 genes could also regulate the expression of defense-related genes. The findings of this study might help enhance the resistance of cucumber to S. fuliginea. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Plant Defense against Pathogens and Herbivores)
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Review

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Review
Macroalgal Defense against Competitors and Herbivores
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22(15), 7865; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijms22157865 - 23 Jul 2021
Viewed by 495
Abstract
Macroalgae are the source of many harmful allelopathic compounds, which are synthesized as a defense strategy against competitors and herbivores. Therefore, it can be predicted that certain species reduce aquaculture performance. Herein, the allelopathic ability of 123 different taxa of green, red, and [...] Read more.
Macroalgae are the source of many harmful allelopathic compounds, which are synthesized as a defense strategy against competitors and herbivores. Therefore, it can be predicted that certain species reduce aquaculture performance. Herein, the allelopathic ability of 123 different taxa of green, red, and brown algae have been summarized based on literature reports. Research on macroalgae and their allelopathic effects on other animal organisms was conducted primarily in Australia, Mexico, and the United States. Nevertheless, there are also several scientific reports in this field from South America and Asia; the study areas in the latter continents coincide with areas where aquaculture is highly developed and widely practiced. Therefore, the allelopathic activity of macroalgae on coexisting animals is an issue that is worth careful investigation. In this work, we characterize the distribution of allelopathic macroalgae and compare them with aquaculture locations, describe the methods for the study of macroalgal allelopathy, present the taxonomic position of allelopathic macroalgae and their impact on coexisting aquatic competitors (Cnidaria) and herbivores (Annelida, Echinodermata, Arthropoda, Mollusca, and Chordata), and compile information on allelopathic compounds produced by different macroalgae species. This work gathers the current knowledge on the phenomenon of macroalgal allelopathy and their allelochemicals affecting aquatic animal (competitors and predators) worldwide and it provides future research directions for this topic. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Plant Defense against Pathogens and Herbivores)
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