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Genetics. 2007 Oct;177(2):1207-16. Epub 2007 Aug 24.

Contrasting rates of evolution in Pm3 loci from three wheat species and rice.

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  • 1Institute of Plant Biology, University of Zürich, 8008 Zürich, Switzerland.


The Pm3 gene from wheat confers resistance against powdery mildew and recent studies have shown that it is a member of a multigene family in the wheat genome. We compared genomic sequences ranging from 178 to 332 kb containing six Pm3-like genes and five gene fragments from orthologous loci in the A genome of wheat at three different ploidy levels. We found that the wheat Pm3 loci display an extremely dynamic evolution where sequence conservation is minimal between species and basically limited to very short sequences containing the genetic markers that define the orthology. The Pm3-like genes and their up- and downstream regions were reshuffled by multiple rearrangements, resulting in a complex mosaic of conserved and unique sequences. Comparison with rice showed that the known wheat Pm3-like genes represent only one branch of a large superfamily with several clusters in rice and suggests the presence of additional similar genes in the wheat genome. Estimates of divergence times and transposable-element insertions indicate that the Pm3 locus in wheat has undergone more drastic changes in its recent evolution than its counterpart in rice. This indicates that loci containing homologous resistance gene analogs can evolve at highly variable speeds in different species.

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