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Plant disease 'stealth bomber' tactics subverted to tackle hundreds of plant pathogens

icked up by a plant's defences and seen as a threat.

The lead researcher from the University of Warwick's School of Life Sciences Professor Beynon said:

"Hyaloperonospora arabidopsidis is one of the stealth bombers of the world of plant pathogens. We can see much of how it has actually slimmed down some key elements of its genetic material in order to get around the plant's natural defences - essentially by stealth."

One of the key ways the University of Warwick, Sainsbury Laboratory and Virginia Tech researchers will exploit this plant pathogen's arsenal to mount their own sneak assault on many much other challenging plant pathogens is through the "RXLR effectors". Such pathogens use a large armoury of "RXLR effectors" to suppress the mechanisms used by plants to detect and then block pathogens. Although having a slimmed down stealth profile Hyaloperonospora arabidopsidis still maintains an amazing 134 RXLR effectors in its armoury. Understanding the role of these effectors will be the key direction of future research in the field.

This parsimonious approach may help Hyaloperonospora arabidopsidis in its stealth attack but it also opens up a major opportunity for researchers to gain insights across a vast range of plant pathogens. Not only does Hyaloperonospora arabidopsidis infect the ideal plant model (Arabidopsis) used by plant researchers the world over for decades it also attacks that model plant with a bare bones set of weapons that greatly simplifies a researcher's task in unpicking how those weapons work. Any insights gained can then be directly applied to the understanding of how those same weapons work in much more complicated pathogens.

Professor Beynon also said:

"This research provides a new window into how Hyaloperonospora arabidopsidis has slimmed down key elements of its genetic material to avoid the plant's natural defences. Despite this reduction, amazing

Contact: Jim Beynon
University of Warwick

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