Plant-Pathogen Effectors: Cellular Probes Interfering with Plant Defenses in Spatial and Temporal Manners

Annu Rev Phytopathol. 2016 Aug 4;54:419-41. doi: 10.1146/annurev-phyto-080615-100204. Epub 2016 Jan 17.


Plants possess large arsenals of immune receptors capable of recognizing all pathogen classes. To cause disease, pathogenic organisms must be able to overcome physical barriers, suppress or evade immune perception, and derive nutrients from host tissues. Consequently, to facilitate some of these processes, pathogens secrete effector proteins that promote colonization. This review covers recent advances in the field of effector biology, focusing on conserved cellular processes targeted by effectors from diverse pathogens. The ability of effectors to facilitate pathogen entry into the host interior, suppress plant immune perception, and alter host physiology for pathogen benefit is discussed. Pathogens also deploy effectors in a spatial and temporal manner, depending on infection stage. Recent advances have also enhanced our understanding of effectors acting in specific plant organs and tissues. Effectors are excellent cellular probes that facilitate insight into biological processes as well as key points of vulnerability in plant immune signaling networks.

Keywords: apoplastic effectors; effector timing; immunity; intracellular effectors; pathogen.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism
  • Fungal Proteins / metabolism
  • Helminth Proteins / metabolism
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions*
  • Plant Diseases / immunology*
  • Plant Diseases / microbiology
  • Plant Diseases / parasitology
  • Plants / immunology*


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Fungal Proteins
  • Helminth Proteins