Dimorphism in fungal plant pathogens

FEMS Microbiol Lett. 2008 Jul;284(2):127-34. doi: 10.1111/j.1574-6968.2008.01173.x. Epub 2008 May 12.


Fungi are mostly sessile organisms, and thus have evolved ways to cope with environmental changes. Many fungi produce 'dormant' structures, which allow them to survive periods of unfavorable conditions. Another ingenious active approach to a changing environment has been adopted by the 'dimorphic fungi', which simply shift their thallic organization as a way to adapt and thrive in the new conditions. Dimorphism is extensively exploited by both plant and animal pathogenic fungi, where the encounter with the host prompts a shift in the mode of growth. In this review, we focus on the phenomenon of dimorphism among plant pathogenic fungi through discussion of several relatively well-studied exemplar species.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cyclic AMP / metabolism
  • Cyclic AMP-Dependent Protein Kinases / metabolism
  • Genes, Mating Type, Fungal
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions*
  • Hyphae / physiology
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases / metabolism
  • Morphogenesis
  • Pheromones / metabolism
  • Plant Diseases / microbiology
  • Plants / microbiology*
  • Spores, Fungal / growth & development
  • Spores, Fungal / physiology
  • Ustilago / growth & development*
  • Ustilago / physiology*


  • Pheromones
  • Cyclic AMP
  • Cyclic AMP-Dependent Protein Kinases
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases