Oomycete plant pathogens, such as Phytophthora and Pythium species produce motile dispersal agents called zoospores that actively target host plants. Zoospores are exceptional in their ability to display taxis to chemical, electrical and physical cues to navigate the phyllosphere and reach stomata, wound sites and roots. Many components of root exudates have been shown attractive or repulsive to zoospores. Although some components possess very strong attractiveness, it seems that especially the mix of components exuded by the primary host is most attractive to zoospores. Zoospores actively approach attractants with swimming behaviour reminiscent of other microswimmers. To achieve a unified description of zoospore behaviour when sensing an attractant, we propose the following terms for the successive stages of the homing response: reorientation, approaching, retention and settling. How zoospores sense and process attractants is poorly understood but likely involves signal perception via cell surface receptors. Since zoospores are important for infection, undermining their activity by luring attractants or blocking receptors seem promising strategies for disease control.
- Plant pathogens