Review: Till death do us pair: Co-evolution of plant–necrotroph interactions

This interesting and well-written review by Derbyshire and Raffaele takes a step back from the molecular interactions between plant and pathogen and discusses them in light of co-evolutionary processes. The review starts with a useful introduction and definition of concepts about “robustness” in biological systems, including multifunctionality, modularity, and compartmentalization, as well as the difference between degeneracy and robustness. The authors then apply these concepts to draw lessons about the co-evolutionary interactions between plants and necrotrophic pathogens, including that although programmed cell death is an effective strategy to combat biotrophic pathogens, it benefits necrotrophic pathogens, which obtain nutrients from dead tissues. I particularly enjoyed the discussion of the molecular factors that contribute to specialization versus generalism, such as the idea that heterogeneous host environments promote degeneracy in pathogen virulence genes.  There’s also an interesting discussion about the spatial and cell-type specific interactions that are being illuminated by single-cell sequencing. (Summary by Mary Williams @PlantTeaching) Curr. Opin. Plant Biol. 10.1016/j.pbi.2023.102457