Fatal attraction: How Phytophthora zoospores find their host

Michiel Kasteel*, Tijs Ketelaar, Francine Govers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13-21
Number of pages9
JournalSeminars in Cell and Developmental Biology
Early online date13 Feb 2023
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2023


  • Chemotaxis
  • Microswimmers
  • Oomycetes
  • Plant pathogens
  • Zoospores


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