A never-ending arms race drives coevolution between pathogens and hosts. In plants, pathogen attacks invoke multiple layers of host immune responses. Many pathogens deliver effector proteins into host cells to suppress host immunity, and many plants have evolved resistance proteins to recognize effectors and trigger robust resistance. Here, we discuss findings on noncoding small RNAs (sRNAs) from plants and pathogens, which regulate host immunity and pathogen virulence. Recent discoveries have unveiled the role of noncoding sRNAs from eukaryotic pathogens and bacteria in pathogenicity in both plant and animal hosts. The discovery of fungal sRNAs that are delivered into host cells to suppress plant immunity added sRNAs to the list of pathogen effectors. Similar to protein effector genes, many of these sRNAs are generated from transposable element (TE) regions, which are likely to contribute to rapidly evolving virulence and host adaptation. We also discuss RNA silencing that occurs between organisms.
Via Christophe Jacquet