Approximately a tenth of all described fungal species can cause diseases in plants. A common feature of this process is the necessity to pass through the plant cell wall, an important barrier against pathogen attack. To this end, fungi possess a diverse array of secreted enzymes to depolymerize the main structural polysaccharide components of the plant cell wall, i.e., cellulose, hemicellulose, and pectin. Recent advances in genomic and systems-level studies have begun to unravel this diversity and have pinpointed cell wall-degrading enzyme (CWDE) families that are specifically present or enhanced in plant-pathogenic fungi. In this review, we discuss differences between the CWDE arsenal of plant-pathogenic and non-plant-pathogenic fungi, highlight the importance of individual enzyme families for pathogenesis, illustrate the secretory pathway that transports CWDEs out of the fungal cell, and report the transcriptional regulation of expression of CWDE genes in both saprophytic and phytopathogenic fungi.
Keywords: cellulases; enzyme secretion; hemicellulases; pectin; plant cell wall; plant pathogens; transcriptional regulation.