Display Settings:


Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Genome Res. 1998 Nov;8(11):1113-30.

Clusters of resistance genes in plants evolve by divergent selection and a birth-and-death process.

Author information

  • 1Department of Vegetable Crops, University of California, Davis, California 95616, USA. rwmichelmore@ucdavis.edu


Classical genetic and molecular data show that genes determining disease resistance in plants are frequently clustered in the genome. Genes for resistance (R genes) to diverse pathogens cloned from several species encode proteins that have motifs in common. These motifs indicate that R genes are part of signal-transduction systems. Most of these R genes encode a leucine-rich repeat (LRR) region. Sequences encoding putative solvent-exposed residues in this region are hypervariable and have elevated ratios of nonsynonymous to synonymous substitutions; this suggests that they have evolved to detect variation in pathogen-derived ligands. Generation of new resistance specificities previously had been thought to involve frequent unequal crossing-over and gene conversions. However, comparisons between resistance haplotypes reveal that orthologs are more similar than paralogs implying a low rate of sequence homogenization from unequal crossing-over and gene conversion. We propose a new model adapted and expanded from one proposed for the evolution of vertebrate major histocompatibility complex and immunoglobulin gene families. Our model emphasizes divergent selection acting on arrays of solvent-exposed residues in the LRR resulting in evolution of individual R genes within a haplotype. Intergenic unequal crossing-over and gene conversions are important but are not the primary mechanisms generating variation.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for HighWire
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk