Anti- and pro-microbial roles of autophagy in plant-bacteria interactions

Autophagy. 2018;14(8):1465-1466. doi: 10.1080/15548627.2018.1475817. Epub 2018 Jul 21.


Macroautophagy/autophagy and the ubiquitin-proteasome system (UPS) are major proteolytic pathways that are increasingly recognized as battlegrounds during host-microbe interactions in eukaryotes. In plants, the UPS has emerged as central component of innate immunity and is manipulated by bacterial pathogens to enhance virulence. Autophagy has been ascribed a similar importance for anti-bacterial immunity in animals, but the contribution of autophagy to host-bacteria interactions remained elusive in plants. Here, we present and discuss our recent findings that revealed anti- and pro-bacterial roles of autophagy pathways during bacterial infection in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana. We discovered that selective autophagy mediated by the autophagy cargo receptor AT4G24690/NBR1 limits growth of Pseudomonas syringae pv. tomato DC3000 (Pst) by suppressing the establishment of an aqueous extracellular space ('water-soaking'). In turn, Pseudomonas employs the effector protein HopM1 to activate autophagy and proteasome degradation ('proteaphagy'), thereby enhancing its pathogenicity. Thus, our study demonstrates that distinct selective autophagy pathways contribute to host immunity and bacterial pathogenesis during Pst infection and provide evidence for an intimate crosstalk between the proteasome and autophagy system in plant-bacterial interactions.

Keywords: Innate immunity; NBR1; Pseudomonas syringae; plant bacterium; proteaphagy; selective autophagy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Comment

MeSH terms

  • Autophagy*
  • Plant Diseases
  • Proteasome Endopeptidase Complex
  • Pseudomonas syringae
  • Virulence


  • Proteasome Endopeptidase Complex

Grant support

This work was supported by the Federation of European Biochemical Societies (FEBS); Swedish Research Council FORMAS; Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU).