Loss of AvrSr50 by somatic exchange in stem rust leads to virulence for Sr50 resistance in wheat

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Science  22 Dec 2017:
Vol. 358, Issue 6370, pp. 1607-1610
DOI: 10.1126/science.aao4810

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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


Race-specific resistance genes protect the global wheat crop from stem rust disease caused by Puccinia graminis f. sp. tritici (Pgt) but are often overcome owing to evolution of new virulent races of the pathogen. To understand virulence evolution in Pgt, we identified the protein ligand (AvrSr50) recognized by the Sr50 resistance protein. A spontaneous mutant of Pgt virulent to Sr50 contained a 2.5 mega–base pair loss-of-heterozygosity event. A haustorial secreted protein from this region triggers Sr50-dependent defense responses in planta and interacts directly with the Sr50 protein. Virulence alleles of AvrSr50 have arisen through DNA insertion and sequence divergence, and our data provide molecular evidence that in addition to sexual recombination, somatic exchange can play a role in the emergence of new virulence traits in Pgt.

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