Fungal pathogens continue to pose a significant threat to crop production and food supply. The early stages of plant-fungus interactions are mostly mediated by microbe-associated molecular pattern (MAMP) molecules, perceived by plant pattern recognition receptors (PRRs). Currently, the identified fungal MAMP molecules include chitin, chitosan, β-glucans, elicitins and ergosterol. Although the molecular battles between host plants and infecting fungal phytopathogens have been studied extensively, many aspects still need to be investigated to obtain a holistic understanding of the intrinsic mechanisms, which is paramount in combating fungal plant diseases. Here, an overview is given of the most recent findings concerning an 'orphan' fungal MAMP molecule, ergosterol, and we present what is currently known from a synopsis of different genes, proteins and metabolites found to play key roles in induced immune responses in plant-fungus interactions. Clearly, integrative investigations are still needed to provide a comprehensive systems-based understanding of the dynamics associated with molecular mechanisms in plant-ergosterol interactions and associated host responses.

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