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Variation in the AvrSr35 gene determines Sr35 resistance against wheat stem rust race Ug99

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Science  22 Dec 2017:
Vol. 358, Issue 6370, pp. 1604-1606
DOI: 10.1126/science.aao7294

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Fungal effectors of wheat stem rust

The fungal pathogen Ug99 (named for its identification in Uganda in 1999) threatens wheat crops worldwide. Ug99 can kill entire fields of wheat and is undeterred by many of the disease-resistance genes that otherwise protect wheat crops. Two papers describe two peptides secreted by the fungus as it attacks the wheat (see the Perspective by Moscou and van Esse). Chen et al. show that fungal AvrSr50 binds to the plant's immune receptor Sr50, and Salcedo et al. show that fungal AvrSr35 binds to Sr35. Successful binding activates the plant's immune defenses. Removing or inactivating these Avr effectors leaves the plant defenseless and susceptible to disease.

Science, this issue p. 1607, p. 1604; see also p. 1541

Abstract

Puccinia graminis f. sp. tritici (Pgt) causes wheat stem rust, a devastating fungal disease. The Sr35 resistance gene confers immunity against this pathogen’s most virulent races, including Ug99. We used comparative whole-genome sequencing of chemically mutagenized and natural Pgt isolates to identify a fungal gene named AvrSr35 that is required for Sr35 avirulence. The AvrSr35 gene encodes a secreted protein capable of interacting with Sr35 and triggering the immune response. We show that the origin of Pgt isolates virulent on Sr35 is associated with the nonfunctionalization of the AvrSr35 gene by the insertion of a mobile element. The discovery of AvrSr35 provides a new tool for Pgt surveillance, identification of host susceptibility targets, and characterization of the molecular determinants of immunity in wheat.

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