Plant-pathogen interactions: disease resistance in modern agriculture

The growing human population will require a significant increase in agricultural production. This challenge is made more difficult by the fact that changes in the climatic and environmental conditions under which crops are grown have resulted in the appearance of new diseases, whereas genetic changes within the pathogen have resulted in the loss of previously effective sources of resistance. To help meet this challenge, advanced genetic and statistical methods of analysis have been used to identify new resistance genes through global screens, and studies of plant pathogen interactions have been undertaken to uncover the mechanisms by which disease resistance is achieved. The informed deployment of major, race-specific and partial, race-nonspecific resistance, either by conventional breeding or transgenic approaches, will enable the production of crop varieties with effective resistance without impacting on other agronomically important crop traits. Here, we review these recent advances and progress towards the ultimate goal of developing disease-resistant crops.