The Oomycota include many economically significant microbial pathogens of crop species. Understanding the mechanisms by which oomycetes infect plants and identifying methods to provide durable resistance are major research goals. Over the last few years, many elicitors that trigger plant immunity have been identified, as well as host genes that mediate susceptibility to oomycete pathogens. The mechanisms behind these processes have subsequently been investigated and many new discoveries made, marking a period of exciting research in the oomycete pathology field. This review provides an introduction to our current knowledge of the pathogenic mechanisms used by oomycetes, including elicitors and effectors, plus an overview of the major principles of host resistance: the established R gene hypothesis and the more recently defined susceptibility (S) gene model. Future directions for development of oomycete-resistant plants are discussed, along with ways that recent discoveries in the field of oomycete-plant interactions are generating novel means of studying how pathogen and symbiont colonizations overlap.
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