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Plant Cell. 2006 Aug;18(8):1803-18. Epub 2006 Jun 23.

A genome-wide survey of R gene polymorphisms in Arabidopsis.

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Department of Ecology and Evolution, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois 60637, USA.


We used polymorphism analysis to study the evolutionary dynamics of 27 disease resistance (R) genes by resequencing the leucine-rich repeat (LRR) region in 96 Arabidopsis thaliana accessions. We compared single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in these R genes to an empirical distribution of SNP in the same sample based on 876 fragments selected to sample the entire genome. LRR regions are highly polymorphic for protein variants but not for synonymous changes, suggesting that they generate many alleles maintained for short time periods. Recombination is also relatively common and important for generating protein variants. Although none of the genes is nearly as polymorphic as RPP13, a locus previously shown to have strong signatures of balancing selection, seven genes show weaker indications of balancing selection. Five R genes are relatively invariant, indicating young alleles, but all contain segregating protein variants. Polymorphism analysis in neighboring fragments yielded inconclusive evidence for recent selective sweeps at these loci. In addition, few alleles are candidates for rapid increases in frequency expected under directional selection. Haplotype sharing analysis revealed significant underrepresentation of R gene alleles with extended haplotypes compared with 1102 random genomic fragments. Lack of convincing evidence for directional selection or selective sweeps argues against an arms race driving R gene evolution. Instead, the data support transient or frequency-dependent selection maintaining protein variants at a locus for variable time periods.

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