A molecular roadmap to the plant immune system.

gold Gold open access

Plant diseases caused by pathogens and pests are a constant threat to global food security. Direct crop losses and the measures used to control disease (e.g. application of pesticides) have significant agricultural, economic, and societal impacts. Therefore, it is essential that we understand the molecular mechanisms of the plant immune system, a system that allows plants to resist attack from a wide variety of organisms ranging from viruses to insects. Here, we provide a roadmap to plant immunity, with a focus on cell-surface and intracellular immune receptors. We describe how these receptors perceive signatures of pathogens and pests and initiate immune pathways. We merge existing concepts with new insights gained from recent breakthroughs on the structure and function of plant immune receptors, which have generated a shift in our understanding of cell-surface and intracellular immunity and the interplay between the two. Finally, we use our current understanding of plant immunity as context to discuss the potential of engineering the plant immune system with the aim of bolstering plant defenses against disease.