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This article is part of the supplement: The PAMGO Consortium: Unifying Themes In Microbe–Host Associations Identified Through The Gene Ontology

Open Access Highly Accessed Review

Programmed cell death in host-symbiont associations, viewed through the Gene Ontology

Marcus C Chibucos12, Candace W Collmer34, Trudy Torto-Alalibo1, Michelle Gwinn-Giglio2, Magdalen Lindeberg4, Donghui Li5 and Brett M Tyler1*

Author Affiliations

1 Virginia Bioinformatics Institute, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA 24061, USA

2 Current address: Institute for Genome Sciences, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD 21201, USA

3 Department of Biological and Chemical Sciences, Wells College, Aurora, NY 13026, USA

4 Department of Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA

5 The Arabidopsis Information Resource, Carnegie Institution, Department of Plant Biology, Stanford CA 94305, USA

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BMC Microbiology 2009, 9(Suppl 1):S5  doi:10.1186/1471-2180-9-S1-S5

Published: 19 February 2009


Manipulation of programmed cell death (PCD) is central to many host microbe interactions. Both plant and animal cells use PCD as a powerful weapon against biotrophic pathogens, including viruses, which draw their nutrition from living tissue. Thus, diverse biotrophic pathogens have evolved many mechanisms to suppress programmed cell death, and mutualistic and commensal microbes may employ similar mechanisms. Necrotrophic pathogens derive their nutrition from dead tissue, and many produce toxins specifically to trigger programmed cell death in their hosts. Hemibiotrophic pathogens manipulate PCD in a most exquisite way, suppressing PCD during the biotrophic phase and stimulating it during the necrotrophic phase. This mini-review will summarize the mechanisms that have evolved in diverse microbes and hosts for controlling PCD and the Gene Ontology terms developed by the Plant-Associated Microbe Gene Ontology (PAMGO) Consortium for describing those mechanisms.