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It is generally accepted in plant-microbe interactions research that disease is the exception rather than a common outcome of pathogen attack. However, in nature, plants with symptoms that signify colonization by obligate biotrophic powdery mildew fungi are omnipresent. The pervasiveness of the disease and the fact that many economically important plants are prone to infection by powdery mildew fungi drives research on this interaction. The competence of powdery mildew fungi to establish and maintain true biotrophic relationships renders the interaction a paramount example of a pathogenic plant-microbe biotrophy. However, molecular details underlying the interaction are in many respects still a mystery. Since its introduction in 1990, the Arabidopsis-powdery mildew pathosystem has become a popular model to study molecular processes governing powdery mildew infection. Due to the many advantages that the host Arabidopsis offers in terms of molecular and genetic tools this pathosystem has great capacity to answer some of the questions of how biotrophic pathogens overcome plant defense and establish a persistent interaction that nourishes the invader while in parallel maintaining viability of the plant host.
Monitoring the photosynthetic performance of plants is a major key to understanding how plants adapt to their growth conditions. Stress tolerance traits have a high genetic complexity as plants are constantly, and unavoidably, exposed to numerous stress factors, which limits their growth rates in the natural environment. Arabidopsis thaliana, with its broad genetic diversity and wide climatic range, has been shown to successfully adapt to stressful conditions to ensure the completion of its life cycle. As a result, A. thaliana has become a robust and renowned plant model system for studying natural variation and conducting gene discovery studies. Genome wide association studies (GWAS) in restructured populations combining natural and recombinant lines is a particularly effective way to identify the genetic basis of complex traits. As most abiotic stresses affect photosynthetic activity, chlorophyll fluorescence measurements are a potential phenotyping technique for monitoring plant performance under stress conditions. This review focuses on the use of chlorophyll fluorescence as a tool to study genetic variation underlying the stress tolerance responses to abiotic stress in A. thaliana.