Among the multitude of soil-inhabiting, saprophytic Streptomyces species are a growing number of plant pathogens that cause economically important diseases, including potato scab. Streptomyces scabies is the dominant pathogenic species worldwide, but is only one of many that cause very similar disease symptoms on plants. Molecular genetic analysis is beginning to identify the mechanisms used by plant pathogenic species to manipulate their hosts. The nitrated dipeptide phytotoxin, thaxtomin, inhibits cellulose biosynthesis in expanding plant tissues, stimulates Ca2+ spiking, and causes cell death. A secreted necrogenic protein, Nec1, contributes to virulence on diverse plant species. The thaxtomin biosynthetic genes and nec1 lie on a large mobilizable PAI, along with other putative virulence genes including a cytokinin biosynthetic pathway and a saponinase homolog. The PAI is mobilized during conjugation and site-specifically inserts in the linear chromosome of recipient species, accounting for the emergence of new pathogens in agricultural systems. The recently available genome sequence of S. scabies will accelerate research on host-pathogen interactions.