What can plant autophagy do for an innate immune response?

Annu Rev Phytopathol. 2011;49:557-76. doi: 10.1146/annurev-phyto-072910-095333.


Autophagy plays an established role in the execution of senescence, starvation, and stress responses in plants. More recently, an emerging role for autophagy has been discovered during the plant innate immune response. Recent papers have shown autophagy to restrict, and conversely, to also promote programmed cell death (PCD) at the site of pathogen infection. These initial studies have piqued our excitement, but they have also revealed gaps in our understanding of plant autophagy regulation, in our ability to monitor autophagy in plant cells, and in our ability to manipulate autophagic activity. In this review, we present the most pressing questions now facing the field of plant autophagy in general, with specific focus on autophagy as it occurs during a plant-pathogen interaction. To begin to answer these questions, we place recent findings in the context of studies of autophagy and immunity in other systems, and in the context of the mammalian immune response in particular.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Autophagy / immunology*
  • Autophagy / physiology
  • Cell Death / immunology
  • Cell Death / physiology
  • Cell Survival / immunology
  • Cell Survival / physiology
  • Cellular Senescence / immunology
  • Cellular Senescence / physiology
  • Chloroplasts / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant
  • Mutation
  • Plant Diseases / immunology*
  • Plant Immunity / immunology*
  • Plant Immunity / physiology
  • Plant Physiological Phenomena*
  • Plant Proteins / genetics
  • Plant Proteins / metabolism
  • Plants / immunology*
  • Plants / metabolism
  • Reactive Oxygen Species


  • Plant Proteins
  • Reactive Oxygen Species