Maintenance of genetic variation in plants and pathogens involves complex networks of gene-for-gene interactions


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The RPP13 [recognition of Hyaloperonospora arabidopsidis (previously known as Peronospora parasitica)] resistance (R) gene in Arabidopsis thaliana exhibits the highest reported level of sequence diversity among known R genes. Consistent with a co-evolutionary model, the matching effector protein ATR13 (A. thaliana-recognized) from H. arabidopsidis reveals extreme levels of allelic diversity. We isolated 23 new RPP13 sequences from a UK metapopulation, giving a total of 47 when combined with previous studies. We used these in functional studies of the A. thaliana accessions for their resistance response to 16 isolates of H. arabidopsidis. We characterized the molecular basis of recognition by the expression of the corresponding ATR13 genes from these 16 isolates in these host accessions. This allowed the determination of which alleles of RPP13 were responsible for pathogen recognition and whether recognition was dependent on the RPP13/ATR13 combination. Linking our functional studies with phylogenetic analysis, we determined that: (i) the recognition of ATR13 is mediated by alleles in just a single RPP13 clade; (ii) RPP13 alleles in other clades have evolved the ability to detect other pathogen ATR protein(s); and (iii) at least one gene, unlinked to RPP13 in A. thaliana, detects a different subgroup of ATR13 alleles.