The ability to distinguish 'self' from 'nonself' is the most fundamental aspect of any immune system. The evolutionary solution in plants to the problems of perceiving and responding to pathogens involves surveillance of nonself, damaged-self and altered-self as danger signals. This is reflected in basal resistance or non-host resistance, which is the innate immune response that protects plants against the majority of pathogens. In the case of surveillance of nonself, plants utilize receptor-like proteins or -kinases (RLP/Ks) as pattern recognition receptors (PRRs), which can detect conserved pathogen/microbe-associated molecular pattern (P/MAMP) molecules. P/MAMP detection serves as an early warning system for the presence of a wide range of potential pathogens and the timely activation of plant defense mechanisms. However, adapted microbes express a suite of effector proteins that often interfere or act as suppressors of these defenses. In response, plants have evolved a second line of defense that includes intracellular nucleotide binding leucine-rich repeat (NB-LRR)-containing resistance proteins, which recognize isolate-specific pathogen effectors once the cell wall has been compromised. This host-immunity acts within the species level and is controlled by polymorphic host genes, where resistance protein-mediated activation of defense is based on an 'altered-self' recognition mechanism.