Fungal and Bacterial Biotrophy and Necrotrophy

  • Geeta
  • Reema Mishra


Plant pathogens have been divided into two classes, namely, biotrophs and necrotrophs. These pathogens lead to significant economic losses by infecting various crops. Biotrophs complete their life cycle by using the living host cell machinery, while necrotrophs feed on the host cell after killing them. Hemibiotrophs, a third group, show both the forms for obtaining nutrition i.e., early biotrophic stage to later necrotrophic phase. After infecting the plants, both the groups of plant pathogens can trigger and suppress plant immune responses by synthesizing and secreting effector proteins. In case of biotrophic pathogens, effector proteins were found to be Avr proteins (identified by resistance proteins), hrp genes, and cell wall-degrading enzymes, while necrotrophic pathogen has additional effectors called as host-selective toxins. Significant differences have been observed between these two groups in the disease symptoms they cause, their host range, morphogenesis of the infection, production of secondary metabolites and hormones, and nature of plant resistance. Biotrophs possess a sophisticated way of infection, i.e., it enters the host cell using the haustoria, colonizes the intercellular space, and overpowers the host defenses. Necrotrophs have been further grouped into host-specific and broad host range necrotrophs depending on the toxins they secrete. In case of necrotrophic infections, host cell death has been shown to trigger production of hormones like ethylene, abscisic acid, salicylic acid, and jasmonic acid. Both bacterial and fungal plant pathogens belonging to the above mentioned category have been identified. In this chapter we are going to discuss the current state of knowledge about bacterial and fungal biotrophs and necrotrophs.


Bacteria Biotrophs Effector proteins Fungal Necrotrophs Pathogen 



Appressorial pegs

It is a specialized cell characteristic of fungal plant pathogens and is used during infection process.

Effector proteins

Proteins secreted by bacterial pathogens during the infection process and help in suppressing the immune system of host.

Extracellular polysaccharides

High molecular weight sugar polymers synthesized by microorganisms. They play important roles in protecting the microorganism and also mediate their pathogenicity.

Hypersensitive response

It is a defense mechanism evoked by pathogens and involves localized cell death to stop the spread of infection.


Chemicals or signal molecules synthesized by plants and play an important role in their growth and development.


Pathogenic bacteria, viruses, or fungi which infect plants and cause many plant diseases.

Quorum sensing

It is a phenomenon of cell-cell communication which helps bacteria to sense the cell density and coordinate their behavior accordingly.

Small RNAs

Noncoding RNA molecules which are less than 200 nucleotide in length and have a role in RNA silencing and regulation of gene expression.


The extent of injury caused by pathogen to its host.


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© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of BotanyGargi College, University of DelhiNew DelhiIndia

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