Unraveling the senses of Phytophthora; leads to novel control strategies?

F. Govers, H.J.G. Meijer, H. Tran, L. Wagemakers, J.M. Raaijmakers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Oomycetes cause devastating diseases on plants and animals. They cause major yield losses in many crop plants and their control heavily depends on agrochemicals. This is certainly true for the potato late blight pathogen Phytophthora infestans. Strong concerns about adverse effects of agrochemicals on food safety and environment are incentives for the development of novel, environmental friendly control strategies preferably based on natural products. Cyclic lipopeptides (CLPs) were recently discovered as a new class of natural compounds with strong activities against oomycetes including Phytophthora. CLPs lyse zoospores, inhibit mycelial growth and effectively reduce late blight disease. In order to unravel how Phytophthora senses CLPs and other environmental signals we follow two approaches. On the one hand, we monitor genome wide changes in gene expression induced by CLPs with the aim to identify the cellular pathways targeted by CLPs. On the other hand, we analyse components of ubiquitous signal transduction pathways with the aim to identify features that are unique for Phytophthora or oomycetes and, hence, could be suitable targets for novel anti-oomycete agents. Mining and comparing whole genome sequences have revealed that Phytophthora harbours many novel phospholipid modifying enzymes, unique for oomycetes. They have aberrant combinations of catalytic and regulatory domains occasionally combined with transmembrane domains. The latter resemble receptors that might be activated by extracellular ligands. Phospholipids, the substrates of these enzymes, are structural membrane components that also function in signalling. Together these findings open new avenues of research aimed at target-discovery in oomycetes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)41-50
JournalActa Horticulturae
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • Cyclic lipopeptides
  • Late blight
  • Oomycete
  • Phospholipid signalling
  • Phytophthora infestans


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