Small RNAs in plant immunity and virulence of filamentous pathogens

Yongli Qiao, Rui Xia, Jixian Zhai, Yingnan Hou, Li Feng, Yi Zhai, Wenbo Ma

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


Gene silencing guided by small RNAs governs a broad range of cellular processes in eukaryotes. Small RNAs are important components of plant immunity because they contribute to pathogen-triggered transcription reprogramming and directly target pathogen RNAs. Recent research suggests that silencing of pathogen genes by plant small RNAs occurs not only during viral infection but also in nonviral pathogens through a process termed host-induced gene silencing, which involves trans-species small RNA trafficking. Similarly, small RNAs are also produced by eukaryotic pathogens and regulate virulence. This review summarizes the small RNA pathways in both plants and filamentous pathogens, including fungi and oomycetes, and discusses their role in host-pathogen interactions. We highlight secondarysmall interfering RNAs of plants as regulators of immune receptor gene expression and executors of host-induced gene silencing in invading pathogens. The current status and prospects of trans-species gene silencing at the host-pathogen interface are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)265-288
Number of pages24
JournalAnnual Review of Phytopathology
Early online date2 Jun 2021
Publication statusPublished - 25 Aug 2021


  • gene silencing
  • host-pathogen arms race
  • nucleotidebinding leucine-rich repeat receptor
  • pentatricopeptide repeat protein
  • RNA interference
  • small RNA trafficking

Cite this