Of PAMPs and Effectors: The Blurred PTI-ETI Dichotomy

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Typically, pathogen-associated molecular patterns (PAMPs) are considered to be conserved throughout classes of microbes and to contribute to general microbial fitness, whereas effectors are species, race, or strain specific and contribute to pathogen virulence. Both types of molecule can trigger plant immunity, designated PAMP-triggered and effector-triggered immunity (PTI and ETI, respectively). However, not all microbial defense activators conform to the common distinction between PAMPs and effectors. For example, some effectors display wide distribution, while some PAMPs are rather narrowly conserved or contribute to pathogen virulence. As effectors may elicit defense responses and PAMPs may be required for virulence, single components cannot exclusively be referred to by one of the two terms. Therefore, we put forward that the distinction between PAMPs and effectors, between PAMP receptors and resistance proteins, and, therefore, also between PTI and ETI, cannot strictly be maintained. Rather, as illustrated by examples provided here, there is a continuum between PTI and ETI. We argue that plant resistance is determined by immune receptors that recognize appropriate ligands to activate defense, the amplitude of which is likely determined by the level required for effective immunity
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4-15
JournalThe Plant Cell
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • receptor-like kinase
  • parasitica var.-nicotianae
  • plant defense responses
  • pathogen pseudomonas-syringae
  • fungus cladosporium-fulvum
  • hypersensitive cell-death
  • disease resistance gene
  • innate immune-response
  • high-affinity binding
  • cultured rice cells

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