Host to a Stranger: Arabidopsis and Fusarium Ear Blight

Helen C Brewer, Kim E Hammond-Kosack
Trends in Plant Science 2015, 20 (10): 651-663
Fusarium ear blight (FEB) is a devastating fungal disease of cereal crops. Outbreaks are sporadic and current control strategies are severely limited. This review highlights the use of Arabidopsis to study plant-FEB interactions. Use of this pathosystem has identified natural variation in Fusarium susceptibility in Arabidopsis, and native plant genes and signalling processes modulating the interaction. Recent breakthroughs include the identification of plant- and insect-derived small molecules which increase disease resistance, and the use of a host-induced gene silencing (HIGS) construct to silence an important Fusarium gene to prevent infection. Arabidopsis has also been used to study other fungi that cause cereal diseases. These findings offer the potential for translational research in cereals which could yield much-needed novel control strategies.

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