The battle for chitin recognition in plant-microbe interactions

Andrea Sánchez-Vallet, Jeroen R. Mesters, Bart P.H.J. Thomma*

*Corresponding author for this work
44 Citations (Scopus)


Fungal cell walls play dynamic functions in interaction of fungi with their surroundings. In pathogenic fungi, the cell wall is the first structure to make physical contact with host cells. An important structural component of fungal cell walls is chitin, a well-known elicitor of immune responses in plants. Research into chitin perception has sparked since the chitin receptor from rice was cloned nearly a decade ago. Considering the widespread nature of chitin perception in plants, pathogens evidently evolved strategies to overcome detection, including alterations in the composition of cell walls, modification of their carbohydrate chains and secretion of effectors to provide cell wall protection or target host immune responses. Also non-pathogenic fungi contain chitin in their cell walls and are recipients of immune responses. Intriguingly, various mutualists employ chitin-derived signaling molecules to prepare their hosts for the mutualistic relationship. Research on the various types of interactions has revealed different molecular components that play crucial roles and, moreover, that various chitin-binding proteins contain dissimilar chitin-binding domains across species that differ in affinity and specificity. Considering the various strategies from microbes and hosts focused on chitin recognition, it is evident that this carbohydrate plays a central role in plant-fungus interactions.

Original languageEnglish
JournalFEMS Microbiology Reviews
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)171-183
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 01.01.2015


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